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Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Directed by Werner Herzog

Much has been made of the creative partnership between Werner Herzog and notorious crackpot Klaus Kinski and the two teamed up to create some compelling films (i.e. "Fitzcarraldo" (1982) and "Aguirre, Wrath of God"(1972)) but "Nosferatu, the Vampyre" is their finest moment and, in my not so humble estimation, the best vampire movie ever made. I'd also proclaim it the most beautiful horror movie ever. It certainly doesn't hurt that the template was the Murnau classic from 1921 (which Herzog considered the most important movie ever made in Germany). It also doesn't hurt that the screen is graced not only by Kinski as the bald corpse colored monster but by the pale beauty of Isabelle Adjani as well who, throughout her career, has shown a certain flair for portraying madness ("Camille Claudel"(1988), "The Story of Adele H"(1975) and the bizarre "Possession"(1981) are three fine examples). Her movements are slow, elegant and haunting and these adjectives are also appropriate when describing the movie as a whole. A sequence that exemplifies this mood finds the character of Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) traveling on foot to the castle of Dracula as the day wanes and night falls. Accompanied by the gorgeous music of Wagner from "Das Reingold" we watch darkening clouds roll over mountain peaks until the sun is gone. Herzog has a penchant for lingering on evocative landscapes but here the effect feels like one long delicious shiver. He is taking us into the land of phantoms, shadows and plague. It's mesmerizing if you are susceptible to such spells.


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