Werner Herzog's remake of F.W. Murnau's original vampire classic is at once a generous tribute to the great German director and a distinctly unique vision by one of cinema's most idiosyncratic filmmakers. Though Murnau's N... more »osferatu was actually an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Herzog based his film largely on Murnau's conceptions--at times directly quoting Murnau's images--but manages to slip in a few references to Tod Browning's famous version (at one point the vampire comments on the howling wolves: "Listen, the children of the night make their music."). Longtime Herzog star Klaus Kinski is both hideous and melancholy as Nosferatu (renamed Count Dracula in the English language version). As in Murnau's film, he's a veritable gargoyle with his bald pate and sunken eyes, and his talon-like fingernails and two snaggly fangs give him a distinctly feral quality. But Kinski's haunting eyes also communicate a gloomy loneliness--the curse of his undead immortality--and his yearning for Lucy (Isabelle Adjani) becomes a melancholy desire for love. Bruno Ganz's sincere but foolish Jonathan is doomed to the vampire's will and his wife, Lucy, a holy innocent whose deathly pallor and nocturnal visions link her with the ghoulish Nosferatu, becomes the only hope against the monster's plague-like curse. Herzog's dreamy, delicate images and languid pacing create a stunningly beautiful film of otherworldly mood, a faithful reinterpretation that by the conclusion has been shaped into a quintessentially Herzog vision. --Sean Axmaker
Stills from Nosferatu: The Vampyre/Phantom Der Nacht (Click for larger image)« less
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 07/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to the Anchor Bay DVD of "Nosferatu...The Vampyre" (1979 version/1999 DVD release).....I Love It!..I say this very enthusiastically, as normally I am slow to warm to remakes. Especially when the original is such a masterpiece itself. This German remake is magnificent. Written, produced and directed by Werner Herzog, and starring Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Adjani, and Bruno Ganz, it's an intoxicating,and edge of your seat horror film, that you won't want to miss a minute of.The images are beautifully photographed,the score is inticing,the story is brillantly acted and Herzog is artful in his direction.The story takes place in the mid 19th century. Johnathan Harker, is about to leave his most beautiful and pure hearted wife Lucy to complete a big real estate deal. He must travel far to Transylvania, and not many are willing to lead him there. There are stories of wolves and spirits, and beautiful Lucy has a bad premonition of things to come.Johnathon does not heed any of the warnings. He arrives, after a long journey, at the castle of "Count Dracula". Dracula(Kinski) is horrifying to look at and mysterious as well. Harker, closes the deal, and, the vampire Dracula is off to spread the Plague and danger to Harker's town and mostly his pure hearted wife! It's as thrilling as any Dracula movie ever and even "Renfield" adds his charms!Anchor Bay has made a nice transfer to DVD. The wonderful cinematography is done justice as it is presented in widescreen(1.85:1), with a nice picture and colors(although at times it seemed a bit grainey). It may be viewed in either the original German Language(Dolby surround) with or without English subtitles, or the English Language version(Mono),also widescreen. There are no subtitiles on the English side, but was helpful to view all the credits in English after I watched the German version. There is director commentary, behind the scene featurettes and U.S. and Spanish Theatrical trailers. It also came in one of the better DVD cases I've seen.This masterful remake of an already classic German masterpiece, is a wonderful homage to F.W. Murnau. If you haven't seen it yet, go for it, it's well worth it.Have dinner with "The Count"....enjoy...Laurie"
Stylistically Faithful Remake of Murnau's Masterpiece.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 12/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Nosferatu the Vampyre" is director Werner Herzog's tribute to F. W. Murnau, whom he considers to be Germany's greatest filmmaker, as well as a haunting gothic horror tale in its own right. It is a remake of Murnau's 1922 film "Nosferatu", which is the earliest surviving cinematic adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula". Herzog has combined ideas from Murnau's film, Bram Stoker's novel, and his own imagination in creating a film that is, if anything, even more expressionistic and romanticist than the 1922 masterpiece. It is also more languid and pathetic than other "Dracula" adaptations.
This version of the Dracula tale, like 1922's "Nosferatu", takes place in Germany and Transylvania. Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) is a real estate agent employed by a madman named Renfield (Roland Topor) to deliver a contract to Count Dracula in Transylvania, who wishes to purchase property in Wismar, Germany. When he reaches his destination, Jonathan finds a hideous, predatory Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski) eager to sign the deed to his new home. Several days later, ill and traumatized by horrors that he experienced at Dracula's castle, Jonathan understands that his young wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani) will be in grave danger if Dracula reaches Wismar and sets out to save her. Count Dracula's arrival in Wismar coincides with the Plague. The city is overrun with rats and its population decimated by disease. Only Lucy comprehends the nature of the evil that has befallen the city and understands what she must do to stop it.
"Nosferatu the Vampyre" adheres pretty closely to Murnau's storyline, rather than Stoker's, except for the ending. The characters and actions have been embellished, however, sometimes with inspiration from the "Dracula" novel. Herzog's film moves slowly but steadily and spends more time with the characters than any previous "Dracula" adaptation. Count Dracula closely resembles Murnau's vampire but is even more grotesque and the least aristocratic of any cinematic Dracula. He is rodent-like and closely associated with rats and the Plague. But he departs from other Dracula interpretations in lamenting his permanent un-dead existence without light or love for centuries, which makes him a slightly tragic character. Although Count Dracula is the force that drives the narrative, the first half of the film is about Jonathan, and the second half concentrates on Lucy. Lucy Harker takes much inspiration from the character of Mina Harker in the novel "Dracula". The film's Lucy is more mystical and less methodical than the book's Mina. But, like Mina, she is stronger and smarter than the characters who surround her, and she tries her best to save everyone in spite of their blindness. Isabelle Adjani's Lucy Harker is the strongest heroine of any "Dracula" film.
Like Murnau's 1922 film, "Nosferatu the Vampyre" is visually expressionistic and romanticist. More of the film takes place outdoors than in other adaptations. There are lots of wide open spaces which are brightly lit, lending the outdoor scenes an airy feel, while scenes indoors tend to be dark and oppressive. This is clearly taken from the Murnau film, with its seaside scenes and bright sunshine. But the color cinematography and superior technology creates a sense of space that Murnau's film doesn't have. Colored lighting is lifted directly from Murnau's film, however. 1922's "Nosferatu" was filmed in black-and-white and tinted several colors to communicate time and mood. "Nosferatu the Vampyre"'s night scenes are bathed in blue light, and the inside of Dracula's castle is close to sepia, producing much the same effects as Murnau's toning.
English and German versions of "Nosferatu the Vampyre" were filmed concurrently. Werner Herzog shot the scenes with dialogue twice -once in German, once in English. The two versions differ by only seconds in length, but they are edited slightly differently. Whichever one you see, "Nosferatu the Vampyre" is one of the most interesting adaptations of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", even if it is an indirect adaptation. It is also the slowest paced and highly expressionistic, which somewhat narrow its appeal."
Werner Herzog's Epic Masterpiece
mirasreviews | 03/10/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Werner Herzog's remake of the 1922 classic is an epic masterpiece in movie making. Beautifully filmed with glorious music, knock-out performance by Klaus Kinski as the flambouyant Count Dracula. Only one other film in history has impressed me this much with unforgettable scenes of the true nature and feeling of vampires. This isn't an ordinary vampire movie, it doesn't have any scares, it doesn't have any bloody scenes either, it's not made to scare or gross the audience, it's made to give the audience remarkable visions of vampires, so masterfully done that they are impossible to forget. Nosferatu The Vampyre remains poignant to this day and stands as one of the greatest films in history."
A Great Interpretation of a Great Interpretation of a Hack
Dansa | 10/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not an adaption of "Dracula" so much a quasi-remake of "Nosferatu," the film rises out the long gliding shadow of the original thanks to the genius tag team of Kinski and Herzog, who are ambitious enough to actually re-interpret the material instead of simply re-creating it. In one of his all time top five performances, Klaus Kinski injects an incredible amount of depth into the Dracula character. He's of course menacing, but he's also sympathetic, pathetic, wise, weary, and at times even clownish. He approaches the role with the gloomy boredom and longing of a creature that has endured too many centuries alone in his crumbling castle.
In contrast to say the more charismatic Draculas we've seen over the past century, Nosferatu is quiet and meek in nature as he uses the minimal ghoul make up to not only provoke creepy unease but also vague sympathy. When he first meets Lucy, his slight shy mannerisms give the impression that he's shameful of his hideous appearance. In contrast, there is the terrifying scene when Jonathan cuts his finger; resulting in the lurching Dracula transforming into a speedy, towering, blood thirsty predator(all thanks to Kinski's seemingly unnatural movements.) As said, he also uses his appearance for tasteful comedy as well, especially during the playful scene where he's tip toeing around like a cartoon character as he plants his caskets around the town under the cover of darkness.
This isn't just the Kinski show however as Herzorg's incredible eye does more than hold up his end of the deal. The natural locations of the ruined castle, the mountains, the beach....etc. are all effectively haunting and he makes certain to linger on them just long enough for the viewer to burn them into their memory. The shots of dusk skyline are both beautifully grand and imposingly claustrophobic. Despite this being a rare venture into horror, Herzorg certainly understands how to create overwhelming apocalyptic doom and dread with startling images of gathering rats, gradually deserting streets, and increasing mass funerals. It's a very visual film with more moody atmospheric droning than dialogue and other more straightforward means of storytelling. It's very dream like, though it's one very strange and creepy dream to be sure. As the protagonist Lucy, Isabelle Adjani's gothic beauty serves the film well but she's also excellent at portraying the innocence and strength of the tragic character. Bruno Ganz's Jonathan plays the role mostly for camp which is perhaps one of the film's few missteps."
WERNER HERZOG'S NOSFERATU
K. Jump | Corbin, KY United States | 10/19/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A visually compelling and idealogically fascianting film, Herzog's inernationally acclaimed version of NOSFERATU doesn't measure up to F.W. Murnau's silent-era orginal. Herzog's Dracula (as performed by actor Klaus Kinski) is a reluctant angel of death, consumed more by unrequitted love and melancholy than bloodlust. Though Kinski certainly looks scary thanks to a fine make-up job, he rarely manages to infuse his role with any real menace. Even when he pays an uninvited visit to Lucy (Isabelle Adjani), Dracula fails to impress either the viewer or his intended victim and must slink away like a whipped dog. As the heroine, the aforementioned Adjani is beautiful but cold, much like the relationship between she and her husband Jonathon (played by Bruno Ganz). In Murnau's original, the young couple were clearly passionately in love with one another; Herzog takes that passion away from his characters, and as a result the viewer never feels the empathy with them that the original generates (particularly for Lucy). Herzog's Van Helsing is weak and ineffectual, and like all the other characters never establishes any sort of rapport with the viewer. The role of Renfield is played for camp and falls flat, jarring terribly with the sombre, even dreary tone of the rest of the film. Though it is interesting to compare Herzog's version with Murnau's, Herzog has not given us a very powerful film. It is as though he purposely wants to keep the audience at arms-lenth, and at no point in the story is there any on-screen energy. Cinematography is excellent, however, and Herzog's NOSFERATU could certainly never be criticized for being overly violent or gory, as there is virtually none of either. Unfortunately, neither is there any supsense or character empathy--deadly to a story that is inherently character-driven. Ultimately there is no reason for a fan of the original to watch the remake, save for curiosity's sake."