Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht
Jonathan Harker is sent away to Count Dracula’s castle to sell him a house in Wismar where Jonathan lives. But Count Dracula is a vampire, an undead ghoul living off of men’s blood. Inspired by a photograph of Lucy Harker, Jonathan’s wife, Dracula moves to Wismar, bringing with him death and plague… An unusually contemplative version of Dracula, in which the vampire bears the curse of not being able to get old and die.
Plot Keywords: jonathan-harker-character / mina-murray-character / lucy-westenra-character / renfield-character / van-helsing-character
Certificate: Argentina:16 | Australia:PG | Australia:NRC | Canada:PG (Ontario) | Canada:G (Quebec) | Denmark:16 | Finland:K-16 | France:Tous publics | Iceland:16 | Italy:VM14 | Netherlands:16 | Netherlands:6 (video rating) | New Zealand:R13 | Norway:16 | Singapore:PG | Spain:13 | Sweden:15 | United Kingdom:AA | United Kingdom:12A | United Kingdom:15 (video rating) | United States:PG | West Germany:16
Cast: Klaus Kinski , Isabelle Adjani , Bruno Ganz , Roland Topor , Walter Ladengast , Dan van Husen , Jan Groth , Carsten Bodinus , Martje Grohmann , Rijk de Gooyer , Clemens Scheitz , Lo van Hensbergen , John Leddy , Margiet van Hartingsveld , Tim Beekman , Jacques Dufilho , Attila C. Arpa , Michael Edols , Werner Herzog , Stefan Husar , Norbert Losch , Johan te Slaa , Beverly Walker
Company: Werner Herzog Filmproduktion
Country: West Germany , France
Language: German , English , Romany
Released Date: 17 Jan 1979 (France)
Film Location: Delft, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Runtime: 107 min
Color: Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Gafke » Werner Herzog's remake of F. W. Murnau's classic film (the story for which Murnau stole without permission from Bram Stoker) is, thus far, my absolute favorite vampire film. I've only ever met one other person who made this claim. Everyone else said they were so bored by it that they either gave up on it or fell asleep in front of the TV.
I can understand this, even if I don't like it. Herzog's film moves at the pace of a fever dream, lingering long on shots of misty mountains and majestic rivers that some (like myself) will find breathtakingly beautiful, and others will find stunningly dull. This is a shame, but in these days of ten car chases, eight explosions and five sweaty sex scenes per film, I guess no one wants to appreciate the scenery as a main character anymore. Herzog has always had a knack for this, as anyone who has seen "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" well knows.
But, I digress. This version of Nosferatu, in places almost a frame for frame remake, is a masterpiece of homage. The slow, somewhat exaggerated reactions of his characters brilliantly echo the performances given by the silent actors in the original film. The landscape is moody and lovely and the sets are gorgeous, especially the phantom castle of The Count, haunted by memories and the strange ghost of a violin playing child. Lovely, ice-white Isabelle Adjani is here as the good and virtuous Lucy (the name reversal of the female characters is rather inexplicable, but it doesn't really matter) floating through the film like a beautiful dream and never once weakening in her faith, even in the face of ultimate horror. Bruno Ganz is somewhat stiff and unemotional, and one has to wonder why Lucy goes to such lengths to save this man who, for some reason, she loves with all her heart. Only in his moments of sickness and fear does Ganz emerge from his emotional void. But it is Klaus Kinski's incredible shadow that stretches over this film and swallows it whole.
Kinski plays his rat-faced, bald headed vampire with perfection. Yes, he complains about the loneliness of being undead, he laments his existence outside the realm of love and humanity, but he does it with a shrug instead of a whine, as if to say: "Yeah, I'm pretty much screwed, but what're ya gonna do?" He brings to his role of Vampire what very few actors (aside from Gary Oldman) have been able to: sympathy. He may hate what he has become, but he never apologizes for it. He is the ultimate scavenger, feeding off the dead and hiding in the darkness. Kinski's Count cannot even seduce. He simply takes. But his one scene with Isabelle is simply devastating, as he at long last reaches out to someone, hoping for love and salvation, and then quickly withdraws, the pain quite clear on his face, as he is sternly rejected.
The ending seems rather rushed and not very well thought-out; a true downer which basically nullifies the film. But the rest of the film is more than worth it, from the opening scenes of rotting mummies and bats flying in slow motion through to the muted spectacle of plague ridden madness as the dying dance in the streets to mournful background music. If you're expecting lots of splattering blood and half dressed girls writhing on their beds, then forget about appreciating this movie. You won't. But if you have a taste for grown-up fairy tales and stunning visuals, see this film.
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