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Nosferatu the Vampyre1979

  • 4.3
Werner Herzog's English version of F.W. Murnau's original film pays homage to many of the latter's memorable images with stunning recreations while creating a number of his own dreamy moments: the twilight hike of Bruno Ganz's Jonathan Harker through the fog-ringed Carpathian Mountains, the ghostly aura of the deserted town, the surreal march of pallbearers parading caskets through the town square, all elevated by the ethereal music of Popul Vuh. The film is at once faithful to Murnau's NOSFERATU yet remains quintessentially Herzogian as well, right down to the casting of Herzog's demon alter ego Klaus Kinski in the role he was born to play. Kinski is both hideous and haunting as the chalk-skinned gargoyle, a melancholy monster seeking an end to his eternal loneliness, and Isabelle Adjani's dark eyes and alabaster skin give her the look of death's bride. Unlike the usual arguments of "original language" versus "dubbed version," Herzog shot the English and German versions simultaneously with the actors performing the spoken scenes separately for each language. The director then edited each version individually, resulting in subtle but palpable differences in pacing, performance and tone between the two otherwise seemingly identical editions. - Sean Axmaker

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Member Reviews (13)

A real blunder. The acting is poor and the story doesn't really seem to go anywhere as we're bombarded with a series of confusing cross-cuts and nonsensical cutaways to make up for the aimless plot. They (Werner Herzog)really didn't know how to end it and seem to be banking on the audience knowing the original story by Bram Stoker.

So much production value with the location and sets but yet is an absolute flop. There is the occasional good shot and one or two good scenes but so much is wasted.

A lot of potential...in the right hands this could have been a great film.

2 members like this review
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top reviewer

So00…here comes the inevitable, sixty-four dollar question: Is that Klaus Kinski wearing monster makeup, or are we seeing his true self up there on screen? Mr. Kinski and Mr. Herzog’s ’79 Nosferau (which sounds like a foreign automobile) is a credible and creepy adaptation of F.W. Murnau’s classic, and Isabelle Adjani is luminous in her portrayal of Lucy. in spite of the cast and crew's best intentions, it’s hard to escape from the long shadow that is the legend of Max Shreck and the primal, nightmarish imagry of his rodent-like Count Orlok lurking in the darkness, haunting our dreams.

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top reviewer

A satisfying update of the 1921 horror masterpiece, this version may be just as good. The scenes of the countless coffins being carried through the streets is chilling, and Klaus Kinski makes you feel sad for a monster that literally kills an entire town over the course of the film.

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top reviewer

I had known this was going to be a good one for any Herzog and Klaus Kinski fan ... and I waited to watch it, as I also knew it would be intense. It was -- but it was also quite beautiful. Strange, peculiar, unnatural, and Kinski brings this disfigured, contorted, man-phantom into shadowy flight. Some scenes are as magical and poetic as they are repulsive. There really is a basic erotic incantation in the final scene between Lucy and Count Dracula. It's a great film, entertaining, and I'll be watching the German language version soon enough.

love Kinski's portrayal as the sad vampire

The world didn't really need a remake of Nosferatu but it is Herzog and it has Isabelle Adjani so it has some things going for it. Kinski and Adjani are perfect in their roles.

Stays faithful to the content of the original, elaborating on Murnau's themes. Gorgeous mountainscapes

Thaink goodness for a Dracula that tells the story as a tragic tale of a loveless immortality wracked by loneliness, instead of the insatiable thirst of a calculating monster. This an intellectual's Dracula, with references to the idea of the sublime in the daunting inaccessibility of Dracula's Carpathian fastness, and Bruegel's dance of death in the mad cavorting of Harker's plague-ridden home town. Though it lacks suspense at transitional moments, Dracula isn't hammed up and there are beautiful shots of the seashore that are a dissolve into an alternate emotional reality that is at peace with itself. Then there is Kinski's Dracula, tormented and shorn of aristocratic shmaltz. I loved the extraordinarily tall goblet that compels Jonathan Harker to expose his throat. I'd watch it just for Kinski alone.

Very well done. Ethereal imagery and interesting music.

Excellent! Herzog at his best!

I love old classic horror movies

Was interested because I find Werner Herzog interesting but have yet to delve into films he's created. Was impressed with the cinematography in general, but the acting and the sound dubbing and the plot weren't the greatest...

that last scene is wonderful. so strange.