Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht
Nosferatu the Vampire
Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu is probably one of the most beautiful films ever made, and certainly it is the most lovely vampire movie. These days Herzog is a bit of a punchline due to his nurturing of his image as not so much an outsider but as a kind of existential interloper. His acting has been more than playful in its faux seriousness and his voice acting for cartoons like Metalocalypse and Rick and Morty are a kind of self-parody. But Herzog made some of the best films of all time and is still the kind of filmmaker who refuses to reward your endurance of difficulty.
I can’t imagine a better or more pleasing horror tale collaboration than Herzog directing Klaus Kinski as Dracula to the music of Popol Vuh. Everything about this film is casually atmospheric to the point of being hauntingly so, which is why is succeeds. Bruno Ganz portrayal of Harker feels almost like a throwaway even though it’s so good; Herzog’s landscape scenes owe much of their impact to Ganz. The scenes of Ganz and Kinski together feel wonderfully surreal, unsettling.
For me, the wonder of this film resides in its patience, how it allows the music, scene, and actors to imbue almost every moment not with portent but a resonating awe. The story is not new and really offers nothing to augment the Dracula tale. As a remake or re-imagining of the original black and white Nosferatu of 1922 is is a lovely homage still managing to have its own identity.
I would encourage viewers to watch both the English and German language versions. Although I prefer the German language version, watching both back to back is very satisfying.
The definitive vampire movie.