Reimagining a Classic: Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU

We live in the age of remakes and prequels. Every month Hollywood rolls out an easily recognizable title that’s been repackaged and recast with a plot that’s all too familiar. The horror and science fiction genre has been hit the hardest by these reimagined movies that all too often fall extremely short of the original film they’re trying to ape. But that’s not always the case. Once in a very rare while a talented director such as John Carpenter (THE THING; 1982), Philip Kaufman (INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS; 1978) or David Cronenberg (THE FLY; 1986) comes along and remakes a classic that’s as compelling as the original. Notice I didn’t say “better” than the original because I don’t think that’s always the case but a good remake can bring something unique to the work that allows us to see the original film with new eyes. A good remake should also be distinct enough to stand on its own as a gripping piece of filmmaking. Today too many directors rely on nostalgia and familiarity to bring in audiences. Their work seems to suffer from a lack of purpose and has no distinct vision.

One of my favorite remakes is Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE aka NOSFERATU: PHANTOM DER NACHT (1979) based on F.W. Murnau’s original film. The distinct look and feel of Murnau’s NOSFERATU (1922) earned it a unique place in the horror film pantheon but in 1979 Herzog decided that he wanted to introduce NOSFERATU to a new audience. WWII had left Germany in tatters and young directors like Herzog were part of the New German Cinema movement that was eager to reinstate Germany’s importance as a vital filmmaking country. As he explained in the book Herzog on Herzog, the director believed that there had been no legitimate German cinema since Hitler came to power in 1933. Herzog also thought that NOSFERATU was the greatest of all German films and hoped that by reinterpreting Murnau’s work, he could reconnect to what he called “legitimate German culture” while exploring his filmmaking roots. The director stressed that a new NOSFERATU was necessary because Germany was now “a fatherless generation” that needed “some sort of continuity in film history.”

At a time when so many classic films are easy to access with just a simple click of our computer mouse, it might be hard to imagine how inaccessible a film like Murnau’s NOSFERATU was to a new generation of German filmgoers in 1979. Along with its association with a past that the German people were eager to forget, Murnau’s film lacked modern appeal for many simply because it was a silent film. German youth were particularly interested in remaking their country and in the process, some overlooked or rejected the artistic accomplishments of their ancestors. Herzog hoped his film would showcase his sincere reverence for Murnau’s original, which he conceived as a tribute instead of a remake. And although he would go on to mimic many of Murnau’s directing choices, Herzog also made many changes to the script that allowed him to address his own artistic concerns.

 

Herzog’s film uses Murnau’s work as a springboard for his own ideas and in some ways, I find it more interesting than Murnau’s original but in other ways it falls short. For example, I prefer the way that Murnau handled the character of Renfield and many of the director’s framing shots and close-ups are so perfectly executed that they can’t be copied. On the other hand, I prefer how Herzog handled the overall story arc. His decision to make the townspeople more complacent with a monster in their midst as well as the way he ended his film, which stressed the idea that evil doesn’t just disappear but merely finds a new guise, is particularly poignant. Especially when you consider Germany’s own experience with very real historic monsters. Herzog’s film is also brimming with beautifully staged scenes that are equal to anything found in Murnau’s film but reflect Herzog’s unique directing style and distinct vision. The way that Herzog incorporates the natural landscape into his films is almost unparalleled. And few directors can make rats look so ornamental. Herzog’s film is exceptional for the way it manages to modernize a genre defining silent film without losing any of the original’s power or mystique. But it never overshadows Murnau’s work, which is equally mesmerizing and gave birth to Herzog’s vision.

One of Herzog’s smartest directing choices was casting Klaus Kinski in the role of Dracula, which was a part previously played by Max Schreck. Klaus Kinski makes a formidable vampire and his dynamic working relationship with the director undoubtedly impacted his performance. Strangely enough, the role of Dracula in NOSFERATU also provided Kinski with one of his most sympathetic and humane roles. Although Kinski is obviously playing a grotesque undead creature, he managed to infuse Dracula with grace and pathos. In turn, it’s one of the actor’s most fascinating and oddly touching performances. Instead of directly following in Max Schreck’s footsteps, Kinski seems to have been inspired by the tragic monsters found in classic Universal horror films such as FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE WOLF MAN (1941). In that actor’s audacious autobiography, he articulated how the physical aspect of playing a vampire had transformed him personally.

“In Holland and Czechoslovakia and all the way to the Tatra Mountains on the Czech-Polish border. The departure point is Munich. Four weeks before shooting starts, I have to fly there for costuming. And this is where I shave my skull for the first time. I feel exposed, vulnerable, defenseless. Not just physically (my bare head becomes as hypersensitive as an open wound) but chiefly in my emotions and my nerves. I feel as if I have no scalp, as if my protective envelope has been removed and my soul can’t live without it. As if my soul has been flayed. . .At first I go outdoors only when it’s dark. Besides, I wear a wool cap all the time even though it’s spring. You may think ‘So What? Some guys are bald.’ But the two have absolutely nothing to do with one another. What I mean is the simultaneous metamorphosis into a vampire. The nonhuman, nonanimal being. That undead thing. That unspeakable creature, which suffers in full awareness of its existence.” - Klaus Kinski from Kinski Uncut

Kinski’s performance is matched by Isabelle Adjani’s haunting portrayal of the ethereal Lucy Harker. Like the silent actress Greta Schröder, Adjani’s otherworldly beauty and expressive eyes tell the audience all they need to know about her character. And Bruno Ganz is also noteworthy as the doomed Jonathan Harker. His sad transformation from a loving husband into a bloodthirsty creature of the night is deeply nuanced.

Herzog’s film tends to divide critics and audiences. Some find it a better and more fully realized film than the original while others, such as author David J. Skal who wrote Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula (often referred to as the ‘definitive’ history of Bram Stoker’s Dracula) called Herzog’s film, “A wrong-headed and rather pretentious remake.” Whatever you may think of the film, I can’t imagine being indifferent to the images that Werner Herzog conjured up from the depths of his own imagination in homage to Murnau. There’s a brilliance as well as a majestic quality to his reimagining of NOSFERATU that is undeniable and hopefully apparent in the comparative screen captures I’ve shared here.

60 Responses Reimagining a Classic: Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU
Posted By wilbur twinhorse : October 20, 2011 6:02 pm

Thanks Kimberly for this tasty pre-Halloween Treat! You might want to correct the repeated misspelling of Murnau in the text, which could detract from what I’m sure is an excellent post. F.W. and Werner what a match!!

Posted By wilbur twinhorse : October 20, 2011 6:02 pm

Thanks Kimberly for this tasty pre-Halloween Treat! You might want to correct the repeated misspelling of Murnau in the text, which could detract from what I’m sure is an excellent post. F.W. and Werner what a match!!

Posted By AL : October 20, 2011 6:07 pm

must mention the mind-boggling restoration released not long ago in a new KINO 2disc set. This print has to be seen to be believed. We’ve always been told that the original negative and prints were ordered to be destroyed. All we’ve had for decades are blurry, murky mutilated dupes of dupes of dupes. (ditto THE GHOUL–after 70 years a prisine 35mm nitrate was found in, of all places, a vault at MGM!)

Posted By AL : October 20, 2011 6:07 pm

must mention the mind-boggling restoration released not long ago in a new KINO 2disc set. This print has to be seen to be believed. We’ve always been told that the original negative and prints were ordered to be destroyed. All we’ve had for decades are blurry, murky mutilated dupes of dupes of dupes. (ditto THE GHOUL–after 70 years a prisine 35mm nitrate was found in, of all places, a vault at MGM!)

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 20, 2011 6:15 pm

Glad you enjoyed it Wilbur and thanks for the “heads-up” on my erratic spelling. I managed to spell Murnau’s name 3 different ways but hopefully I’ve corrected all my typos. I’ll blame the cold I’m currently fighting for my mistakes.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 20, 2011 6:15 pm

Glad you enjoyed it Wilbur and thanks for the “heads-up” on my erratic spelling. I managed to spell Murnau’s name 3 different ways but hopefully I’ve corrected all my typos. I’ll blame the cold I’m currently fighting for my mistakes.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 20, 2011 6:19 pm

Thanks for mentioning the KINO discs, Al. I own an old DVD and these images don’t do the original film justice at all (except their composition is still fantastic of course!) so my screen grabs are less than optimal.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 20, 2011 6:19 pm

Thanks for mentioning the KINO discs, Al. I own an old DVD and these images don’t do the original film justice at all (except their composition is still fantastic of course!) so my screen grabs are less than optimal.

Posted By AL : October 20, 2011 6:40 pm

Kimberly–you must check-out the KINOset–it’s astonishing. I, too, love the Herzog –it’s a Great film and, technically, absolutely gorgeous to look at…

Posted By AL : October 20, 2011 6:40 pm

Kimberly–you must check-out the KINOset–it’s astonishing. I, too, love the Herzog –it’s a Great film and, technically, absolutely gorgeous to look at…

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 20, 2011 6:49 pm

Thanks again, Al. I’ve seen a much better print on TCM (not sure if it was the KINO one or not but maybe Suzi can answer that since she works with KINO?). But I’d love to get the KINO disc set to replace my copy, which I believe I bought for 99 cents at the supermarket years ago.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 20, 2011 6:49 pm

Thanks again, Al. I’ve seen a much better print on TCM (not sure if it was the KINO one or not but maybe Suzi can answer that since she works with KINO?). But I’d love to get the KINO disc set to replace my copy, which I believe I bought for 99 cents at the supermarket years ago.

Posted By Tom S : October 20, 2011 6:50 pm

I love Herzog’s Nosferatu- I think he’s such a distinctive filmmaker that his personality is going to emerge even when trying to stick as closely as possible to the original, as he was there, and I particularly liked the way he highlighted the connection between Nosferatu and the Plague- anything that reminds one that vampires are meant to be metaphysical terrors and not just run of the mill scary monsters is great by me. I also liked the way he improved the Mina Harker role, and made her the film’s strongest character (outside of Nosferatu himself.)

For the original- the Kino is fine, but if you’re region-free capable, I would recommend the English Masters of Cinema release. They’ve put out nearly all the major Murnau, and the prints and extras are consistently excellent.

Posted By Tom S : October 20, 2011 6:50 pm

I love Herzog’s Nosferatu- I think he’s such a distinctive filmmaker that his personality is going to emerge even when trying to stick as closely as possible to the original, as he was there, and I particularly liked the way he highlighted the connection between Nosferatu and the Plague- anything that reminds one that vampires are meant to be metaphysical terrors and not just run of the mill scary monsters is great by me. I also liked the way he improved the Mina Harker role, and made her the film’s strongest character (outside of Nosferatu himself.)

For the original- the Kino is fine, but if you’re region-free capable, I would recommend the English Masters of Cinema release. They’ve put out nearly all the major Murnau, and the prints and extras are consistently excellent.

Posted By A.R. : October 20, 2011 7:12 pm

Great article! I still haven’t seen Herzog’s take, but it’s on my Netflix queue and might be worth watching for Halloween. Interesting to read Herzog’s thoughts on why he wanted to remake it.

Kinski is an actor whose work I’d like to explore in greater depth. Earlier this year I saw him in Woyzeck, and it’s amazing to see him transform into a very different character than Aguirre (which is all I really know). I’ve got Fitzceraldo sitting on my TV stand right now, so I might watch that first. I’m currently re-drawing an illustration for Woyzeck–he has such an interesting face!

Posted By A.R. : October 20, 2011 7:12 pm

Great article! I still haven’t seen Herzog’s take, but it’s on my Netflix queue and might be worth watching for Halloween. Interesting to read Herzog’s thoughts on why he wanted to remake it.

Kinski is an actor whose work I’d like to explore in greater depth. Earlier this year I saw him in Woyzeck, and it’s amazing to see him transform into a very different character than Aguirre (which is all I really know). I’ve got Fitzceraldo sitting on my TV stand right now, so I might watch that first. I’m currently re-drawing an illustration for Woyzeck–he has such an interesting face!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 20, 2011 7:46 pm

Tom – Obviously I agree with you and loved what you said about, “vampires are meant to be metaphysical terrors and not just run of the mill scary monsters.” So true! Herzog really understood that as did Kinski.

And thanks for the DVD rec as well. I’m keeping tally now. That’s = 1 Vote for the Kino DVD and 1 Vote for the MASTERS OF CINEMA release. If anyone else wants to add their 2 cents as well as their vote, please do!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 20, 2011 7:46 pm

Tom – Obviously I agree with you and loved what you said about, “vampires are meant to be metaphysical terrors and not just run of the mill scary monsters.” So true! Herzog really understood that as did Kinski.

And thanks for the DVD rec as well. I’m keeping tally now. That’s = 1 Vote for the Kino DVD and 1 Vote for the MASTERS OF CINEMA release. If anyone else wants to add their 2 cents as well as their vote, please do!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 20, 2011 7:58 pm

A.R. – Thank you! I think you’d really enjoy it just for Kinski’s remarkable performance alone but it has so much to offer. It’s easily one of my favorite Herzog films. He does some amazing things here. And I must admit that I’m a huge Kinski fan so that undoubtedly colors my opinion of his performance but he really is one of the screen’s most fascinating vampires.

Would love to see your illustration for WOYZECK one it’s complete! Kinski’s great in that film as well as FITZCARRALDO. And his face is incredibly animated. So alive!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 20, 2011 7:58 pm

A.R. – Thank you! I think you’d really enjoy it just for Kinski’s remarkable performance alone but it has so much to offer. It’s easily one of my favorite Herzog films. He does some amazing things here. And I must admit that I’m a huge Kinski fan so that undoubtedly colors my opinion of his performance but he really is one of the screen’s most fascinating vampires.

Would love to see your illustration for WOYZECK one it’s complete! Kinski’s great in that film as well as FITZCARRALDO. And his face is incredibly animated. So alive!

Posted By dukeroberts : October 20, 2011 11:33 pm

Was Herzog’s Nosferatu the genesis of the weepy vampire that is so prevalent in today’s culture? “Metaphysical terror” is a much better object of a vampire film than a weepy, twinkling, crybaby vampire who wants his soul restored so that he can fall in love. Blech! Was Herzog’s version what caused the exodus from scary, undead terror to tears? I’ve never seen it, but Murnau’s is tops.

Posted By dukeroberts : October 20, 2011 11:33 pm

Was Herzog’s Nosferatu the genesis of the weepy vampire that is so prevalent in today’s culture? “Metaphysical terror” is a much better object of a vampire film than a weepy, twinkling, crybaby vampire who wants his soul restored so that he can fall in love. Blech! Was Herzog’s version what caused the exodus from scary, undead terror to tears? I’ve never seen it, but Murnau’s is tops.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 21, 2011 12:03 am

“Was Herzog’s version what caused the exodus from scary, undead terror to tears?”

You’ve got to be kidding me, duke! Did you see the images I posted? Kinski’s damn scary looking! Don’t think many twinkle-eyed teens would be dreaming about him at night unless he showed up in their nightmares.

But all kidding aside. No. Herzog’s film did not make way for the TWILIGHT movies. Bela Lugosi’s Dracula had more to do with that if you want to name names. But I personally think it’s probably the fault of Anne Rice who wrote a couple of very good vampire books (“Interview with the Vampire” and “The Vampire Lestat”) that were hugely popular and one was adapted into an awful (my opinion of course) movie with Tom Cruise & Brad Pitt. I can’t remember the film all that well but I’m pretty sure Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise cries in INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE. Point your finger at them, not Kinski.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 21, 2011 12:03 am

“Was Herzog’s version what caused the exodus from scary, undead terror to tears?”

You’ve got to be kidding me, duke! Did you see the images I posted? Kinski’s damn scary looking! Don’t think many twinkle-eyed teens would be dreaming about him at night unless he showed up in their nightmares.

But all kidding aside. No. Herzog’s film did not make way for the TWILIGHT movies. Bela Lugosi’s Dracula had more to do with that if you want to name names. But I personally think it’s probably the fault of Anne Rice who wrote a couple of very good vampire books (“Interview with the Vampire” and “The Vampire Lestat”) that were hugely popular and one was adapted into an awful (my opinion of course) movie with Tom Cruise & Brad Pitt. I can’t remember the film all that well but I’m pretty sure Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise cries in INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE. Point your finger at them, not Kinski.

Posted By dukeroberts : October 21, 2011 12:14 am

“Strangely enough, the role of Dracula in NOSFERATU also provided Kinski with one of his most sympathetic and humane roles. Although Kinski is obviously playing a hideous undead creature, he manages to give Dracula some genuine humanity and it’s one of the actor’s most fascinating and oddly touching performances. Instead of directly following in Max Schreck’s footsteps, Kinski seems to have been inspired by the tragic monsters found in classic Universal horror…”

That is why I ask. “sympathetic”, “humanity” and “touching” are not adjectives I associate with the character of Dracula in the Lugosi version, nor of Shreck’s characterization.

Posted By dukeroberts : October 21, 2011 12:14 am

“Strangely enough, the role of Dracula in NOSFERATU also provided Kinski with one of his most sympathetic and humane roles. Although Kinski is obviously playing a hideous undead creature, he manages to give Dracula some genuine humanity and it’s one of the actor’s most fascinating and oddly touching performances. Instead of directly following in Max Schreck’s footsteps, Kinski seems to have been inspired by the tragic monsters found in classic Universal horror…”

That is why I ask. “sympathetic”, “humanity” and “touching” are not adjectives I associate with the character of Dracula in the Lugosi version, nor of Shreck’s characterization.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 21, 2011 12:47 am

When I refer to Kinski’s performance as being ” sympathetic” and “touching” I’m comparing him to the shambling walking corpse of Frankenstein’s monster. Not Lugosi’s suave, sexy Dracula that could make women swoon, which I happen to think is a very “human” quality. I don’t think many women would swoon for Kinski’s Dracula and Isabelle Adjani’s character certainly doesn’t although some publicity stills kind of suggest she does.

On the other hand, If you find Karloff’s Frankenstein monster sympathetic you might (and I stress – might!) find Kinski’s Dracula sympathetic but he’s a far, far cry from the “weepy, twinkling, crybaby vampire” that led to today’s TWILIGHT vampires.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 21, 2011 12:47 am

When I refer to Kinski’s performance as being ” sympathetic” and “touching” I’m comparing him to the shambling walking corpse of Frankenstein’s monster. Not Lugosi’s suave, sexy Dracula that could make women swoon, which I happen to think is a very “human” quality. I don’t think many women would swoon for Kinski’s Dracula and Isabelle Adjani’s character certainly doesn’t although some publicity stills kind of suggest she does.

On the other hand, If you find Karloff’s Frankenstein monster sympathetic you might (and I stress – might!) find Kinski’s Dracula sympathetic but he’s a far, far cry from the “weepy, twinkling, crybaby vampire” that led to today’s TWILIGHT vampires.

Posted By Tom S : October 21, 2011 7:47 am

It’s also worth remembering that ‘most sympathetic role’ is relative, and this is Klaus “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” Kinski we’re discussing- he’s someone who couldn’t have played cutesy sparkly if he tried. As is, his Nosferatu is feral, deformed, and deeply unsettling- but perhaps not as consciously malevolent as many of Kinski’s other roles.

Posted By Tom S : October 21, 2011 7:47 am

It’s also worth remembering that ‘most sympathetic role’ is relative, and this is Klaus “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” Kinski we’re discussing- he’s someone who couldn’t have played cutesy sparkly if he tried. As is, his Nosferatu is feral, deformed, and deeply unsettling- but perhaps not as consciously malevolent as many of Kinski’s other roles.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 21, 2011 12:45 pm

Kimberly – Wow! Fantastic frame to frame breakdown of the two movies. I saw the original on the big screen last Halloween (though it was marred by a horribly done “modern” score played live) and the images are simply stunning to behold in the flickering dark. I wish I could see Herzog’s on the big screen too. For now, I’ve only caught it on the small screen. Perhaps one day the AFI will run it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 21, 2011 12:45 pm

Kimberly – Wow! Fantastic frame to frame breakdown of the two movies. I saw the original on the big screen last Halloween (though it was marred by a horribly done “modern” score played live) and the images are simply stunning to behold in the flickering dark. I wish I could see Herzog’s on the big screen too. For now, I’ve only caught it on the small screen. Perhaps one day the AFI will run it.

Posted By Tom S : October 21, 2011 1:04 pm

Man, bad silent film scores are the worst. I don’t mind modernist scores in of themselves- one of the best experiences I’ve had with a silent was watching Caligari live, with an eerie, subtle electronic/synth score being performed- but I think sometimes there’s a tendency in live accompanists to Mickey Mouse the score, make everything sync up moment to moment, and telegraph all the jokes or scares or dramatic moments or whatever. It always winds up destroying the whole atmosphere.

Posted By Tom S : October 21, 2011 1:04 pm

Man, bad silent film scores are the worst. I don’t mind modernist scores in of themselves- one of the best experiences I’ve had with a silent was watching Caligari live, with an eerie, subtle electronic/synth score being performed- but I think sometimes there’s a tendency in live accompanists to Mickey Mouse the score, make everything sync up moment to moment, and telegraph all the jokes or scares or dramatic moments or whatever. It always winds up destroying the whole atmosphere.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 21, 2011 1:05 pm

Tom’s right. When I wrote that I thought Kinski’s Dracula was “one of his most sympathetic and humane roles” it was my personal observation. I’m sure some people will disagree with me but as Tom also said – this is Klaus Kinski we’re talking about! And I agree with Tom’s observation, Kinski “couldn’t have played cutesy sparkly if he tried.”

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 21, 2011 1:05 pm

Tom’s right. When I wrote that I thought Kinski’s Dracula was “one of his most sympathetic and humane roles” it was my personal observation. I’m sure some people will disagree with me but as Tom also said – this is Klaus Kinski we’re talking about! And I agree with Tom’s observation, Kinski “couldn’t have played cutesy sparkly if he tried.”

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 21, 2011 1:10 pm

Thanks, Greg! It must have been a blast to see the original on Halloween night. I saw it on the big screen when I was in college and it was amazing but I’ve never had the opportunity to see Herzog’s film on the big screen either.

And I must agree with you & Tom about a lot of modern silent film scores, they’re awful! And a bad score can really pull me out of a movie. It’s a shame that so many modern interpretations of silent films scores aren’t given more thought and care.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 21, 2011 1:10 pm

Thanks, Greg! It must have been a blast to see the original on Halloween night. I saw it on the big screen when I was in college and it was amazing but I’ve never had the opportunity to see Herzog’s film on the big screen either.

And I must agree with you & Tom about a lot of modern silent film scores, they’re awful! And a bad score can really pull me out of a movie. It’s a shame that so many modern interpretations of silent films scores aren’t given more thought and care.

Posted By Film Friday | Weekly Roundup « Pretty Clever Films : October 21, 2011 3:18 pm

[...] to Nosferatu pop up like weeds every October, but the Movie Morlock’s examination of Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre is a great [...]

Posted By Film Friday | Weekly Roundup « Pretty Clever Films : October 21, 2011 3:18 pm

[...] to Nosferatu pop up like weeds every October, but the Movie Morlock’s examination of Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre is a great [...]

Posted By Emgee : October 21, 2011 3:35 pm

I love both versions, and i see Herzog’s version as a re-imagining more than as a straight remake. The idea to make the vampire a tragic character instead of just a bloodsucking monster adds so much drama and depth to the story. I own the Eureka version which looks superb, so i heartily recommend that one. The only drawback i felt was the overly pretentious commentary track, with an almost shot by shot analysis of the movie. As if they’re deciphering Ulysses instead of a vampire movie! Oh well, the rest of the extras are great.

Posted By Emgee : October 21, 2011 3:35 pm

I love both versions, and i see Herzog’s version as a re-imagining more than as a straight remake. The idea to make the vampire a tragic character instead of just a bloodsucking monster adds so much drama and depth to the story. I own the Eureka version which looks superb, so i heartily recommend that one. The only drawback i felt was the overly pretentious commentary track, with an almost shot by shot analysis of the movie. As if they’re deciphering Ulysses instead of a vampire movie! Oh well, the rest of the extras are great.

Posted By Emgee : October 21, 2011 3:37 pm

OOPs.just realised i took the term “re-imagining” from your great post. Sorry about that…Well, i only steal from the best!

Posted By Emgee : October 21, 2011 3:37 pm

OOPs.just realised i took the term “re-imagining” from your great post. Sorry about that…Well, i only steal from the best!

Posted By Tom S : October 21, 2011 3:51 pm

(The Eureka version is the same as the Masters of Cinema one I mentioned above.)

Seriously, not to get pretentious, but Murnau’s Nosferatu is pretty far from being just a vampire movie- I mean, I take issue with the idea that genre fare is automatically disposable, light stuff that doesn’t hold up to serious analysis in general, but Nosferatu in particular is a foundational document for a huge swath of decades of cinematic history, inside the horror genre and out.

Posted By Tom S : October 21, 2011 3:51 pm

(The Eureka version is the same as the Masters of Cinema one I mentioned above.)

Seriously, not to get pretentious, but Murnau’s Nosferatu is pretty far from being just a vampire movie- I mean, I take issue with the idea that genre fare is automatically disposable, light stuff that doesn’t hold up to serious analysis in general, but Nosferatu in particular is a foundational document for a huge swath of decades of cinematic history, inside the horror genre and out.

Posted By Emgee : October 21, 2011 5:22 pm

Tom S, i agree with what you say; i meant to point out that the commentary was pretentious, as if we need film scholars to tell us what the director meant with every single camera movement.
(Automatically disposable, light stuff; did i really write that? Doesn’t sound like me…)

Posted By Emgee : October 21, 2011 5:22 pm

Tom S, i agree with what you say; i meant to point out that the commentary was pretentious, as if we need film scholars to tell us what the director meant with every single camera movement.
(Automatically disposable, light stuff; did i really write that? Doesn’t sound like me…)

Posted By dukeroberts : October 21, 2011 5:40 pm

Regarding film scores: Though it’s not a silent movie, Dracula had no music. I started to watch it with the Philip Glass score last night and turned it off quickly. It stuck out. It just didn’t “feel” right. It’s not as horrific as that rock soundtrack version of Metropolis (which I detest), but it was a little disconcerting to the ear.

Posted By dukeroberts : October 21, 2011 5:40 pm

Regarding film scores: Though it’s not a silent movie, Dracula had no music. I started to watch it with the Philip Glass score last night and turned it off quickly. It stuck out. It just didn’t “feel” right. It’s not as horrific as that rock soundtrack version of Metropolis (which I detest), but it was a little disconcerting to the ear.

Posted By Tom S : October 21, 2011 6:31 pm

@Emgee:

Fair enough, I guess I took your comment the wrong way, and it’s something I get weirdly sensitive about. I’ve listened to that commentary, and I just thought the guys on it sounded a bit under-informed for pros, and wound up just telling us what we were seeing instead of background info or thematic connections or whatever.

If you want to hear the world’s most pretentious commentaries, listen to Marian Keene on the Criterion release of The Lady Eve sometime- it’s a great movie, and there’s no question that she’s well informed on the subject, but she reads motives and ideas into every single element of the frame in a way that seems to say more about the mind of Marian Keene than that of Preston Sturges.

@Duke

I like that Philip Glass music, but it doesn’t sync up that well to me- unlike his opera for Beauty and the Beast (the Cocteau version), which I love so much I rarely watch the movie with the normal soundtrack now.

The Moroder score on Metropolis is… something, that’s for sure. It’s a great example of the music totally overwhelming the images, as it effectively turns a great movie into a not-very-good music video.

Posted By Tom S : October 21, 2011 6:31 pm

@Emgee:

Fair enough, I guess I took your comment the wrong way, and it’s something I get weirdly sensitive about. I’ve listened to that commentary, and I just thought the guys on it sounded a bit under-informed for pros, and wound up just telling us what we were seeing instead of background info or thematic connections or whatever.

If you want to hear the world’s most pretentious commentaries, listen to Marian Keene on the Criterion release of The Lady Eve sometime- it’s a great movie, and there’s no question that she’s well informed on the subject, but she reads motives and ideas into every single element of the frame in a way that seems to say more about the mind of Marian Keene than that of Preston Sturges.

@Duke

I like that Philip Glass music, but it doesn’t sync up that well to me- unlike his opera for Beauty and the Beast (the Cocteau version), which I love so much I rarely watch the movie with the normal soundtrack now.

The Moroder score on Metropolis is… something, that’s for sure. It’s a great example of the music totally overwhelming the images, as it effectively turns a great movie into a not-very-good music video.

Posted By dukeroberts : October 21, 2011 6:44 pm

Yes, that Moroder nonsense totally takes you out of the movie. It is totally incongruous with the film. The Glass Dracula score may be good music, but it’s not right for the movie.

I listened to snippets of the Beauty and the Beast opera. It is very good, but I didn’t watch the movie with it.

Posted By dukeroberts : October 21, 2011 6:44 pm

Yes, that Moroder nonsense totally takes you out of the movie. It is totally incongruous with the film. The Glass Dracula score may be good music, but it’s not right for the movie.

I listened to snippets of the Beauty and the Beast opera. It is very good, but I didn’t watch the movie with it.

Posted By C. Jerry : October 23, 2011 3:23 pm

Great screen grab comparisons of two wonderful films. No one can match the eerie visuals of Murnau’s original, but the performances of Kinski and Adjani in Herzog’s remake are remarkable and among the two actors’ best work.

Posted By C. Jerry : October 23, 2011 3:23 pm

Great screen grab comparisons of two wonderful films. No one can match the eerie visuals of Murnau’s original, but the performances of Kinski and Adjani in Herzog’s remake are remarkable and among the two actors’ best work.

Posted By Juana Maria : October 24, 2011 11:40 am

This discussion made me think of the film,”Shadow of the Vampire”(2000),with John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe. That movie was so so wierd, but very funny.

Posted By Juana Maria : October 24, 2011 11:40 am

This discussion made me think of the film,”Shadow of the Vampire”(2000),with John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe. That movie was so so wierd, but very funny.

Posted By Heidi : October 26, 2011 12:35 pm

We recorded the Nosferatu that played on TCM a few days ago so I could watch it Halloween. I LOVE it. I have not seen the “homage” but will be looking for it now. I hate the way vampires have changed over the years. I think that Bella did a fantastic job-his sexy vampire was so evil it made it seem almost obscene-to me anyway. Hmm…it seems like a good thing, though! *G* I never miss a Bella movie if I can help it. But I hated the Interview with a Vampire movie, and these twinkly vampires of today. Bella would never sparkle, and certainly there was no sparkling going on in Nosferatu! The movie folk are trying, as has been mentioned many times before, to gain access to the people they percieve to have the disposable income. That age group likes sparkly vampires and no story, so that’s what we get. We just lost one of our theaters in town. It was the one that showed the independent films, foregin films and the like. They couldn’t compete with the big 20 plexes any longer.

Posted By Heidi : October 26, 2011 12:35 pm

We recorded the Nosferatu that played on TCM a few days ago so I could watch it Halloween. I LOVE it. I have not seen the “homage” but will be looking for it now. I hate the way vampires have changed over the years. I think that Bella did a fantastic job-his sexy vampire was so evil it made it seem almost obscene-to me anyway. Hmm…it seems like a good thing, though! *G* I never miss a Bella movie if I can help it. But I hated the Interview with a Vampire movie, and these twinkly vampires of today. Bella would never sparkle, and certainly there was no sparkling going on in Nosferatu! The movie folk are trying, as has been mentioned many times before, to gain access to the people they percieve to have the disposable income. That age group likes sparkly vampires and no story, so that’s what we get. We just lost one of our theaters in town. It was the one that showed the independent films, foregin films and the like. They couldn’t compete with the big 20 plexes any longer.

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