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"Nosferatu the Vampyre" is director Werner Herzog's tribute to F. W. Murnau, whom he considers to be Germany's greatest filmmaker, as well as a haunting gothic horror tale in its own right. It is a remake of Murnau's 1922 film "Nosferatu", which is the earliest surviving cinematic adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula". Herzog has combined ideas from Murnau's film, Bram Stoker's novel, and his own imagination in creating a film that is, if anything, even more expressionistic and romanticist than the 1922 masterpiece. It is also more languid and pathetic than other "Dracula" adaptations.

This version of the Dracula tale, like 1922's "Nosferatu", takes place in Germany and Transylvania. Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) is a real estate agent employed by a madman named Renfield (Roland Topor) to deliver a contract to Count Dracula in Transylvania, who wishes to purchase property in Wismar, Germany. When he reaches his destination, Jonathan finds a hideous, predatory Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski) eager to sign the deed to his new home. Several days later, ill and traumatized by horrors that he experienced at Dracula's castle, Jonathan understands that his young wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani) will be in grave danger if Dracula reaches Wismar and sets out to save her. Count Dracula's arrival in Wismar coincides with the Plague. The city is overrun with rats and its population decimated by disease. Only Lucy comprehends the nature of the evil that has befallen the city and understands what she must do to stop it.

"Nosferatu the Vampyre" adheres pretty closely to Murnau's storyline, rather than Stoker's, except for the ending. The characters and actions have been embellished, however, sometimes with inspiration from the "Dracula" novel. Herzog's film moves slowly but steadily and spends more time with the characters than any previous "Dracula" adaptation. Count Dracula closely resembles Murnau's vampire but is even more grotesque and the least aristocratic of any cinematic Dracula. He is rodent-like and closely associated with rats and the Plague. But he departs from other Dracula interpretations in lamenting his permanent un-dead existence without light or love for centuries, which makes him a slightly tragic character. Although Count Dracula is the force that drives the narrative, the first half of the film is about Jonathan, and the second half concentrates on Lucy. Lucy Harker takes much inspiration from the character of Mina Harker in the novel "Dracula". The film's Lucy is more mystical and less methodical than the book's Mina. But, like Mina, she is stronger and smarter than the characters who surround her, and she tries her best to save everyone in spite of their blindness. Isabelle Adjani's Lucy Harker is the strongest heroine of any "Dracula" film.

Like Murnau's 1922 film, "Nosferatu the Vampyre" is visually expressionistic and romanticist. More of the film takes place outdoors than in other adaptations. There are lots of wide open spaces which are brightly lit, lending the outdoor scenes an airy feel, while scenes indoors tend to be dark and oppressive. This is clearly taken from the Murnau film, with its seaside scenes and bright sunshine. But the color cinematography and superior technology creates a sense of space that Murnau's film doesn't have. Colored lighting is lifted directly from Murnau's film, however. 1922's "Nosferatu" was filmed in black-and-white and tinted several colors to communicate time and mood. "Nosferatu the Vampyre"'s night scenes are bathed in blue light, and the inside of Dracula's castle is close to sepia, producing much the same effects as Murnau's toning.

English and German versions of "Nosferatu the Vampyre" were filmed concurrently. Werner Herzog shot the scenes with dialogue twice -once in German, once in English. The two versions differ by only seconds in length, but they are edited slightly differently. Whichever one you see, "Nosferatu the Vampyre" is one of the most interesting adaptations of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", even if it is an indirect adaptation. It is also the slowest paced and highly expressionistic, which somewhat narrow its appeal.
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on March 9, 1999
Werner Herzog's remake of the 1922 classic is an epic masterpiece in movie making. Beautifully filmed with glorious music, knock-out performance by Klaus Kinski as the flambouyant Count Dracula. Only one other film in history has impressed me this much with unforgettable scenes of the true nature and feeling of vampires. This isn't an ordinary vampire movie, it doesn't have any scares, it doesn't have any bloody scenes either, it's not made to scare or gross the audience, it's made to give the audience remarkable visions of vampires, so masterfully done that they are impossible to forget. Nosferatu The Vampyre remains poignant to this day and stands as one of the greatest films in history.
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on November 22, 1999
I first saw this in the summer of 1987 on Channel 4 here in England. I was 13 years old and the movie's dark lasciviousness left such a deep impression upon me that I followed the tape for years like a bounty hunter. I finally got the opportunity to buy both the English and the German version from Amazon this year and awaited their arrival with extreme anticipation. Herzog's reworking of the FW Murnau silent is like heroin for the eyes. This film transcends definition in that it is a movie made of a movie and not made for actors per se. You can tell this by the suppressed use of dialogue (hence giving rise to the ease Herzog had in making 2 entirely different language versions using separate film sessions). The chills are entirely implicit. What does come out is the delicious photography which Herzog fuses well with an ethereal soundtrack from Popol Vuh, Wagner and some Messe opera at the end. Ganz is the perfect victim because he is so soft-spoken and wide-eyed. Adjani is a luscious foil for Kinski, whose erotic appeal comes out in tragic spurts near the end. We through, accentuated by Herzog's anachronistic camera lens and the terror mushrooms in the subconscious which gives rise to a longer term type of disquiet. The mummies in the intro. add intensity to the story. We're taken from that crypt to the happy breakfast table of the Harkers in the space of a minute, like a tooth being jerked back and forth before it is wrenched out of the gum. The best part of the film has to be the journey to Castle Dracula. There is so much expectation loaded in there. The imagery conjured by the Gypsy warnings at the campfire creates an apprehension the size of a planet while the mountain lines and jagged caves of Harker's final leg of the journey give rise to something even larger. You can feel the warmth of civilization in the campfire flames. When you juxtapose that with the howling wolves and the oppressive night both inside and outside Castle Dracula, your sense of safety becomes highly polarised. Herzog used a blue filter for the Castle shots and this adds a heaviness in feel which has to be seen to be appreciated. His technique overall with the camera is pure wizardry. For him, 'Nosferatu' was a homage piece but, ironically, it exudes a beautifully cold type of anti-energy which he failed to capture with any of his other works, including 'Aguirre' and 'The Glass Blower', both being in the specter vein. For some reason, the remake has been murdered by professional reviewers for years. It's been termed 'mediocre' and the like but I believe those early reviewers lacked something. Perhaps it was the dichotomy between the reign of slasher films and 'Nosferatu' which gave them a hard time. I'll wager many of them wrongly had the film mentally pigeon-holed as purely being horror before the cinema curtain fell aside and were disappointed. Prejudice is an evil thing in this case as you need to let the movie soften you. After all, you can't give scope to something which goes beyond all scope. Better than the 1922 original? No; not better, but definitely a makeover of it which would have brought a tear to Murnau's eye for sure. One thing is certain, though. Both 'Nosferatu' versions blow the Universal, Hammer and all others (including the 1992 super-hyped F.F.C. version) right out of the water. This vampire is the one Stoker must surely have seen. No slick hair with a v-shape hairline, velvet cape or parody-deserving suaveness. Kinski reanimates the demonology Schreck first tapped while creating a perverse sexuality that is so implicit it is more erotic than anything overt. The vampyre is a satanic Dorian Gray, except it's painting is the earth in its coffin. I'd recommend watching this late at night. That sounds cliched but is necessary because the camera-work is so soporific that it will play tricks on your subconscious in your slumber hours. While you watch late at night, you will feel sleepy. Herzog works his magic by lulling his viewers with mesmerism, almost prepping us for Kinski to stick his head through the screen and bite our necks once we're suitably catatonic. Heroin for the soul as well as the eyes. This film deserves a far, far better fate than that which it has suffered lying in its cannisters for close to 15 years. Never seen on legal video before and with only a few prints made for television through the 1980's, I think what adds to the film's 'homecoming' is the fact that it is a true fetish member of that clique, I shall leave you with two words of advice. Number German versions as well as the original 1922 silent. Number two is watch one of them every Saturday and Wednesday night and just see how enriched your spirit will become.
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on July 1, 2014
The Movie itself is a moody masterpiece, my gripe is with the transfer. It appears to be remastered from an old VHS tape. Video noise and artifacts abound, Scream Factory should be ashamed to call this a Blu Ray remastering. If you are region code free get the BFI Collection Blu Ray from the UK. I will be doing the same.
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on November 25, 2011
The original Nosferatu has to be the best vampire movie ever made. When I purchased this, I was disappointed that I wasn't getting the original but decided to take the chance. I was delighted with this remake. It stuck to the script exactly as the original & the only difference was that there was speaking in it. They made the characters up to look like the original characters. It was in color (the original was black & white) but that didn't deter from the creepiness of the movie. The color was in a blue hue so everything was darker. This was a great Halloween movie that didn't disappoint at all. Actually, it was the first remake I ever liked!
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on February 2, 2015
This brilliant film was difficult to find on dvd a few years back. It should be re-mastered because Klaus Kinski is truly demonic as if he squeezed out the inner ghoul in him onto film. He was a wierd character in real life. For fantasists of the occult he may well have been an unearthly presence made manifest and using his power to become a famous actor. Forget the musings that the vintage Nosferatu was played by an equally, purportedly creepy man, who took long walks in forests and kept himself to himself - Klaus Kinski is the real deal. Very scary.
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on February 17, 2013
This movie is really something special. What I like to say is that it's not my favorite version of Dracula, but it's probably my favorite Vampire movie. What I mean by that is that it is definitely a very unique adaption of Dracula, basically a remake of the first (unauthorized) film adaption of the Dracula story, the silent film Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror, and it's very much interprets the Dracula story in a very distinct way that is not like the iconic story we've come to know. In many ways I think it recognizes aspects of what Dracula truly was that no other adaption has personified. But it's also more of a "retelling" than a straight adaption, as much it's own thing as it is a Dracula story. What makes it brilliant is that here we have a vampire that is absolutely creepy and yet you don't run away from him and he creeps on you very slowly and yet you don't jump away, you're just sort of frozen there, fascinated and terrified. It's the opposite of what I hate about horror movies, it's all ambiance and the horror is even more devastating without the shrieking. It's the personification of what the vampire is, if not the personification of what we expect from a Dracula film (the perfect Dracula film is still yet to be made).

I very much recommend the two disc edition by Anchor Bay. They shot the speaking roles of this movie both in English and in German. Both are great and I like being able to watch a movie in my own language without a dubbing or looking at the subtitles. But the actors definitely seem to be a little more natural in their own language (the German version). I consider both versions legitimate versions (which I don't extend to dubbing) and after I watched one, not knowing what to expect, I then put on the other just fascinated with picking up the nuances I might have missed in the other version.

I can't recommend this movie highly enough, unless you just want the same old modern formula movie, in which case you really shouldn't ever take any of my recommendations.
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on May 6, 2001
Nosferatu unfolds like a languorous, disturbing dream. The images have an hallucinogenic, archetypal quality: mummified human remains in an ancient tomb; the figure of a woman sitting on a beach studded with tombstones; a dead sea-captain lashed to the wheel of a deserted sailing ship.
Like Kubrick's The Shining, Nosferatu is less a standard genre film than a singular expression of a filmmaker's vision. Writer-director Werner Herzog began with F.W. Murnau's expressionist classic, mixed in elements from Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, then set about creating a meditation on the vampire myth. What would it really mean to live forever, and be compelled to feed on the blood of others? What of the unspeakable boredom? The longing for companionship? For normalcy? For death? As played by Klaus Kinski, Herzog's Dracula has spent hundreds, if not thousands of years alone with these thoughts. He is the ultimate poster boy for German angst. If not for the skill of his performance and Herzog's direction, he might have lapsed into self-parody.
There are shots that all but reproduce moments from the silent classic - right down to the overwrought body language. But Herzog, Kinski, and the rest of the cast (including Bruno Ganz as Jonathon Harker and Isabelle Adjani as his wife Lucy) keep it in check and keep it beautifully stylized, so it all works.
Probably due to the involvement of American studio 20th-Century Fox, Nosferatu was shot in both English and German versions. Both are on this double-sided DVD; comparing them is instructive, since there are non-trivial differences in the visual construction of both films. Most critics agree (and I concur) that the German one is superior.
Finally, to get an idea of whether you will like this - or any - Werner Herzog film, take the Armageddon-Matrix test: if you hated Armageddon because it was empty and overblown, but kind of liked The Matrix because of its ideas, then you may like Nosferatu. If, on the other hand, you thought Armageddon rocked, but only kind of liked The Matrix because it was slow in places, then don't even think about it.
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on December 5, 2014
Werner Herzog is a film-maker of varying degrees of success. He is definitely a talent but not so noticeable as to put him league with the greatest 'foreign film-makers'. That said, this is a particularly intriguing version of the Dracula formula deliberately aligned to the original Murnau masterpiece. It is dark, bleak & Gothic - just as it should be - with an ugly & unnerving Dracula in the persona of Klaus Kinski who delivers a marvelous portrayal. The dubbing is fair, the story basic & with few special effects to talk of. Yet it haunts you from beginning to end. This won't be the most loved of the Dracula canon but it will be among the top 5. The Blu ray transfer is very good if not spectacular. The commentary trails off from the film from time to time but interesting nonetheless. I'd suggest it should be part of anyone's Dracula collection for certain.
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on April 4, 2012
This Werner Herzog remake of the classic 1922 silent, Nosferatu, is a beautiful yet haunting visual salute. Starring Klaus Kinski and Isabelle Adjani, this story that originally was an unauthorized depiction of the Bram Stoker novel "Dracula", remains one of the most scary versions that holds true to the original novel....second only to director Francis Ford Copola's version. It is a must see for the horror fan, the vampire fan, or the Kinski fan. The latest DVD release has the actors speaking in English AND a second disk where they speak in German...no voice dubbing.
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