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21 December 2011

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre) (1979) [70's Marathon] 13#

Directed by: Werner Herzog
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Art House
Country: Germany
Runtime: 107 minutes
In a salute and connection to one of Germany’s most important silent films, being “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror”, this remake almost meets the greatness of its original. Director Werner Herzog not only does this through his similar looking sets and citations throughout the film, but by also bringing a new wave to the story of Nosferatu. Dracula is still one of the most fascinating monsters of literature and cinema, and this film is filled with homages to the original while bringing something new. 

Nosferatu the Vampire traces the blood-sucking progress of the count as he takes over a small German village, then attempts to spread his influence and activities to the rest of the world. All that prevents Dracula from continuing his demonic practices is the self-sacrifice of Lucy Harker, played by Isabelle Adjani. Director Werner Herzog used the story to parallel the rise of Nazism.

Werner Herzog’s vision of F.W Murnau’s adaptation of this classic tale retold is almost as powerful as the original. With an inheritance of the film’s dark tone, it truly captures the essence of the 20’s silent films. The way the film is made definitely stands out. With all the sets, fascinating imagery and of course, the frightening performance from Klaus Klinski as Nosferatu, it definitely serves as a connection between cinema of the 1920’s and the modern days of cinema. This is a salute to German expressionism and the silent era of cinema.

Herzog is definitely a director whose films I will be checking out in the future, as I know he is an acclaimed German director. His work here was terrific and the film played through similar to the original, with an eerie and dark gothic presence that may not scare you, but definitely haunts you.
The major difference between F.W Murnau’s telling of the story is that here, Nosferatu becomes decayed and weaker as the film progresses. Murnau’s version features Nosferatu with great power right up until he is in the final scene where he is vanquished by the light. Aside this, the film recreates techniques and scenes of the original such as the scene with the many people carrying coffins, and the infamous shadow that we see in the original of Nosferatu walking up the stairs. 
Klaus Klinski playing the film’s titular character was nothing short of brilliant and I would call it one of the best performances I have seen in a German film. From the very first moments we see him he sends chills up your spine with those long front teeth, pale face, and pointed ears and of course, the claw-like fingers that he has. Not to mention how Klinski moves around throughout the film like a real vampire. His performance was creepy and chilling, but definitely elegant. Playing this film’s Renfield was Roland Topor who was wonderfully eccentric in his psychotic role. 
The film is in the right time in the right place. If filmmakers today decided to make this kind of remake, it would likely have CGI and be a lot more flashy than suspenseful. This film has gloriously dark set pieces that create the atmosphere of the entire film and it is almost as good as the original. “Nosferatu” captures a piece of nostalgia of films of yesterday, and revitalises with great passion and flare and a fine example of the rise of new wave of filmmakers in the 70's.

My Rating: 8.5/10

2 comments:

  1. Great review Thomas! The 20s version is excellent as well, I should check this one out though!

    ReplyDelete
  2. terrific review, Tom.

    ReplyDelete

 

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