Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Nosferatu - Phantom der Nacht - 1979 film

I recently watched this film, directed by Werner Herzog, which is essentially a remake of the classic 1922 silent picture, which itself was essentially an adaptation of the Dracula story.

The visuals in this movie are lavish and impactful, and this factor is important in capturing and instilling the requisite mood.  The same could be said for Popol Vuh's atmospheric and evocative soundtrack. Their styles could have been made for this kind of subject matter, although perhaps not traditionally what one would associate with vampire stories.

This interpretation of the story appears to slant towards an examination of Dracula's personal plight, a psychological study, and looks at how he was trapped by his predicament.

Tension and anticipation are expertly constructed. Part of the interest is in discovering what kind of take Herzog applies to the tale and the traditions. Great use is made of brooding, menacing natural landscapes, and shadow and light. To my mind this picture is more "European" than other vampire movies, with an additional layer of mystique and eeriness.

The dialogue is relatively sparse, and this leaves gaps which accentuate the sense of dread and uncertainty. Klaus Kinski is supremely creepy in the title role, evoking a character who inspires fear, but also fascination and even sympathy.

With its Gothic majesty and the scenes involving rats, this movie is quite uncompromising, stark and unremitting, but highly accomplished technically and eminently watchable.