Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu is not your average remake. Both a lovingly made tribute to the beloved silent horror movie, and a great film in its own right, Herzog’s version pivots on a genuinely terrifying performance by Klaus Kinski as the eponymous vampire and creates a sense of dread that is entirely its own.
Herzog considered Murnau’s Nosferatu the greatest film ever made in Germany, and his remake was an expressed attempt from one of the key figures in the New German Cinema movement that came of age during the 1970s to connect with and celebrate cinema from the country’s past. Stunningly photographed by Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein, Herzog’s homage to it is mostly reverent in terms of retelling the story, and he coaxes performances referencing silent cinema from the cast.
Bruno Ganz and Isabelle Adjani are both excellent as the Harker couple, with Klaus Kinski as Count Dracula getting close to the iconic portrayal by Max Schreck. One thing that distinguishes the two films is that Kinski is a far more sympathetic vampire, with Herzog curious to explore the figure’s inherent loneliness and melancholy, making a film that is both scary and sad.
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