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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Review: Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Nosferatu the Vampyre is a re-make  Directed by Werener Herzog(Grizzly Man) and starring Klaus Kinski('For A Few Dollars More') and Isabelle Adjani('Possesion')

 I Am reviewing the German version.


Nosferatu opens on Centuries old Mexican Mummies, ancient time capsules of knowledge; images of our own mortality and death. Areminder of the difference between the undead and the living, with time we crumble and decay but the the Vampyre will be alive when those mummies crumble. It maintains this sense of dread through the entirety of its run time, and like most Herzog movies features very beautiful imagery, From lights dancing in the sky over a mountain range, to the isolated depths of Dracula's rotting castle.

This movie bases its interpretation of Dracula from two different sources, first it has; the sets, make up, and costume primarily drawn from the a classic Silent Horror Film 'Nosferatu'. Herzog draws on Murnau's use of shadow predominantly through the film, and maintains a pervasive sense of perverse tension reminiscent or the original.  Originally coming out in 1922 the original 'Nosferatu' is magnificently directed by F.W. Murnau and gave birth to the idea of the vampire as pale parasite.  Murnau wanted to use the Novel 'Dracula' as his inspiration, but Bram Stoker's wife wouldn't release the rights.  Murnau changed the names in the script, and made the movie anyways.

Nosferatu opens on Centuries old Mexican Mummies, ancient time capsules of knowledge; images of our own mortality and death. Q reminder of the difference between the undead and the living, that with time we crumble and decay but the the Vampyre lives on through all time; that they will be alive when those mummies crumble. It maintains this sense of dread through the entirety of its run time, and like most Herzog movies features very beautiful imagery, From lights dancing in the sky over a mountain range, too the isolated depths of Dracula's rotting castle.
 Herzog also makes several deliberate changes to the script, that come from the book and his imagination. He starts by Changing the names back to there originals and introducing sub-plots and surreal sequences that only serve to enhance the madness present in a town where the plague spreads and Dracula stalks the streets at night.

Kinski gives the most restrained and graceful performance of his career while caked under layers of make up and prosthetic's. He muses about the sorrow of life forever over dinner, when Johnathan Harker comes to sell him a Home; He glides through the night with supernatural ease, and makes it look very scary.

Isabelle Adjani does a great job of projecting terror while looking as still as a Porcelain Doll. Beautiful and lusted after,  she's the movies driving force, Caught between wanting to protect a very sick Husband and being terrified of the Vampyre that haunts her dreams.

Herzog's Nosferatu is a fresh take still after all these years, on a classic story. It's shot with a somber pace, and has a dreadful atmosphere and surreal imagery; The special effects are top notch, and the actors are all veterans who bring the right characteristics of each character. Some people may find some of the more surreal scenes a little jarring, but is the key to the films mood.

10.