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Review - Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht

Watched Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht on Fandor.

I’d actually already seen this remake of F.W. Murnau’s classic silent horror film years ago (on VHS, in its English language version), but I’d completely forgotten just how melancholy Klaus Kinski’s performance as the eponymous vampire was—his Graf Dracula may be a monster, but he’s also a captivatingly tragic figure. When he stares longingly at Jonathan Harker, he’s motivated by envy, rather than bloodlust; he remembers how it feels to be human, and after suffering through centuries of undeath, he yearns to once again enjoy the taste of food, the warmth of sunlight, and the love of a woman. Of course, he remains an irredeemably evil creature beneath these few sympathetic qualities, and Herzog’s palpably haunting atmosphere constantly reinforces the colossal threat he poses to the mortal world, assaulting the viewer with near apocalyptic imagery—the sequence in which the plague-afflicted citizens of Wismar dance and frolic through the coffin-cluttered streets, desperate to savor what little time they have left, is particularly poignant.

[Originally written May 8, 2018.]

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