Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror and Shadow of the Vampire
Nosferatu le Vampire [Second French Version] . Many parts were changed around in order to give the film a happy ending, for example. .. the other developed around the homosexual relationship between Nosferatu and. That famous image of Max Schreck's hollow-cheeked, bald vampire fresh of the outbreak of Spanish flu at the end of the First World War. Shadow of the Vampire is based on a fictionalized story of the making of F.W. Ok, I have to admit the ending of Shadow of the Vampire has me stumped. It asks .
Nosferatu the Vampyre (West Germany/France, 1979)
For Herzog, the image of Dracula burned into his memory was not that of the suave, courtly Lugosi but of the gaunt, predatory Max Schreck. It's no surprise, therefore, that Schreck's appearance served as a blueprint for Klaus Kinski's count. Herzog's stormy relationship with the notoriously difficult Kinski is the stuff of modern mythology. It has been recounted, explained, and analyzed by both principals - by the late Kinski who died in in his autobiography and by Herzog in his documentary, My Best Fiend.
Kinski, prone to irrational bursts of rage, would frequently throw tantrums on the set, but Herzog was willing to endure these because of the quality of the performance that would come afterward. The two men worked together five times in addition to Nosferatu the Vampyre, they made Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Woyzeck, Fitzcarraldo, and Slave Coastand their collaborations resulted in the best films for both of them.
Kinski's portrayal of Count Dracula is arguably the most impressive performance he ever gave. Kinski's Dracula is unlike any other interpretation of the character. Visually, he resembles Schreck, with a bald pate, pointed ears, rat-like fangs, clawed hands, and a stiff gait - but that's where the similarity ends. This version of the count is neither a cultured nobleman, a sadistic monster, nor a romantic lead.
Instead, he is a twisted wretch - a creature who longs for the simple pleasures of life and humanity denied to him by the curse that has transformed his existence into a bloody, monotonous litany of late-night feedings. He craves affection almost as much as he desires death, and the simple pathos we feel for this tortured soul makes him a surprisingly sympathetic figure.A Film Score to the Sacrifice Scene - Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
Herzog and Kinski give us an incarnation of Dracula who is monstrous yet sad; indomitable yet tragic. He is undone not by hubris or carelessness, but by the yearning to steal a few moments extra pleasure in the arms of a woman. That woman is the gorgeous Isabelle Adjani, who plays Lucy Harker, the object of the count's obsession. As in the original Nosferatu, Lucy and Dracula share a psychosexual connection, and he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame, with equally traumatic results.
Lucy's self-sacrifice in surrendering her purity to the vampire allows her to destroy Dracula by keeping him at her bedside long enough for him to be stricken by the first rays of the new day's sunbut the act costs her life, as well. On a narrative level, this is reasonably straightforward, but the subtext makes an interesting point by equating the loss of virginity to death. The lover's embrace that Lucy bestows upon Dracula to keep him feeding until the cock's crow seals both of their fates.
Adjani plays a strikingly effective Lucy - her almost ethereal beauty contrasts starkly with Dracula's ugliness. Like Kinski, Adjani has a reputation for being a difficult actor to work with, albeit for different reasons.
Herzog recounts how he spent a great deal of time reassuring Adjani about the effectiveness of her performance in order to prop up her fragile ego. None of Dracula's female victims before or after has displayed such a powerful mixture of fiery determination, cool beauty, and blatant sensuality. The third member of the main acting trio is Bruno Ganz best-known to date as one of the stars of Wim Wenders' Wings of Desirewho plays the unfortunate Jonathan Harker.
The film opens with Harker leaving behind his young wife, Lucy, and venturing into the Carpathian Mountains on the way to Castle Dracula, where he is to finalize a real estate deal with the mysterious and elusive Count Dracula. Once there, he becomes the Count's prisoner. Later, after escaping from the castle, he races Dracula back to Wismar, but, by the time he arrives, brain fever has struck and he can no longer remember his friends, his wife, or his ordeal in Transylvania.
Nosferatu the Vampyre ends very differently from the original Nosferatu. In the version, a grief-stricken Jonathan was left alone by the bedside of his dead wife. In this film, he undergoes a frightening transformation.
The most famous vampire hunter in history, Abraham Van Helsing Walter Ladengasthas a more significant role here than in Murnau's movie where his stand-in, Bulwer, had virtually nothing to dobut he's far from the heroic individual associated with Peter Cushing.
Van Helsing is devoted to the principles of science, and, instead of leading the crusade against Dracula, he resists the possibility of vampirism until it's too late. In the end, he takes up his stake and hammer, but, by then, his intervention is almost irrelevant.
Lucy has done the job for him. One plot element explored here but only hinted at in Stoker's novel and Murnau's film casts Dracula in the role of plague-bringer. In Nosferatu the Vampyre, an army of rats 11, of them, to be precise - all real arrives in Wismar with the Count, spreading the Black Death throughout the city.
This leads to eerie scenes of coffin parades through the nearly-deserted streets and of a last supper where plague-stricken revelers partake in an outdoor feast while rats swarm around their feet under the table. In the shot where the wind blows a candle out, in this exact place, there was a splice, demonstrating that the sections before and after had been printed separately, the first to be coloured yellow or orange for candle-light and the second blue or green, for night and moonlight.
We do not know, unfortunately, how much influence Murnau exerted on the colouring of his films. He obviously left the rest of the colouring to the laboratory staff making the prints. The original intertitles also indicate that Nosferatu was very much conceived as a day-and-night film.
At the beginning of the film every change in the time of day is announced by a title " Later in the film the twilight images function alone, without introductory title, to mark the change from day to night and vice versa. It was a coloured copy of the first French version of the film about which Robert Desnos had written long before Breton had noted the film. Parts of the film were missing, due to deliberate cuts by the distribution company as well as normal wear and tear on the print, and the colours had altered considerably - the blue of the night scenes had disappeared completely, and Nosferatu was again walking in the sunshine.
Nevertheless, it was still possible to see which colour had been allocated to which section. We could also tell that the French distributor had - as was normal at the time - received the coloured positive print from Germany, producing only the French titles in France. One could therefore assume that the French version was based on the same colouring plan as the German version. This made it obvious that night scenes had sometimes been coloured blue and green, even when a lamp was visible as the light source and one would therefore have expected yellow.
In the scene at the Carpathian inn in Act 1, blue exterior shots alternate with yellow interiors, as was the convention at the time, but in the scenes in Hutter and Ellen's apartment in the final act, when Nosferatu is sucking Ellen's blood, blue exteriors alternate with green interiors.
Green, alternating with blue, underlines the eeriness of these scenes, which suggests that when Hitchcock was deciding on the colouring for The Lodger he remembered the music-hall melodramas he saw as a child, where the villain was always bathed in green light. Twilight images in Nosferatu were originally coloured pink as a rule with only one - the shot with the flesh-eating plant, the venus fly-trap - coloured orange.
First a black-and-white negative was printed from the Paris colour print on to panchromatic stock. The result is a black-and-white image on a tinted background. Most are single shots or, more rarely, two or three within a sequence. Only in one place is there a short sequence of five new shots together in a scene with Harding and Ruth playing croquet.
Other shots are now longer and fade in and out where there had previously been 'hard' cuts, or the image quality has been improved. An extra metres has been added to the 1, metres of the well-known version, so that no more shots should now be missing from the original 1, metres length.
Henri Langlois was not, it seems, always dedicated to showing 'silent films' silent, and in the early days he would have Joseph Kosma accompany them on the piano. There are however indications that directors such as Lang and Murnau were no more indifferent to the musical accompaniment than they were to the colour or indeed to any part of the technical aspect of their films.
We discover from the title-list handed down by Lotte Eisner that the credits of the Ur-Nosferatu give Hans Erdmann as the composer of the original music for the film, just as the Nibelungen and Metropolis title-lists name Gottfried Huppertz.
Erdmann was a conductor, composer and music critic and from edited the journal Film - Ton - Kunst 'Film - Sound - Art'. In he wrote the music for Fritz Lang's Testament des Dr. Erdmann and Becce have reported that, before completing his films, Murnau used to discuss the music with the composers. Erdmann composed his Nosferatu score as a suite which he called Fantastisch-Romantische Suite.
It was published in two arrangements, one for full orchestra and one for palm court orchestra. None of the ten pieces, wrote Erdmann in an open letter to an orchestra director who had attacked the composition as "too highbrow", was "planned in such a way that it must always be used in the form provided.
It is of course possible to do so, but by no means obligatory.
- Nosferatu the Vampyre (West Germany/France, 1979)
Sometimes very good effects were produced, but in other cases the results were less satisfactory. What struck both Heller and myself, completely independently, was how the musical and colouring effects reinforced each other.
New German intertitles and inserts according to the original title list, as printed in Lotte H. A colour print was made from the duplicate negative of the restauration, using filters, tentatively brown for sunshine, pink for dawn, blue for moonshine, yellow for artificial light. Nature participates in the action: Murnau did not have to distort the little Baltic townscapes with contrasting lighting effects: Murnau created an atmosphere of horror by a forward movement of the actors towards the camera.
The hideous form of the vampire approaches with exasperating slowness, moving from the extreme depth of one shot towards another in which he suddenly becomes enormous. Murnau had a complete grasp of the visual power that can be won from editing, and the virtuosity with which he directs this succession of shots has real genius.
Instead of presenting the whole approach as a gradual process, he cuts for a few seconds to the reactions of the terrified youth, returns to the approach, then cuts it off abruptly by having a door slammed in the face of the terrible apparition; and the sight of this door makes us catch our breath at the peril lurking behind it.
Expressionism in German Cinema. Despite the detailed research of M. Leutrat, the question of how Nosferatu came to be made is still something of a mystery.
Very little is known about Grau, though a recent article by Enno Patalas depicts him variously as a student of eastern philosophy, a freemason and master of the 'pansophic lodge of the light-seekers' in Berlin, a fan of Aleister Crowley, a friend of novelist-painter Alfred Kubin and the author of a pamphlet about the use of colour in decor and lighting in black-and-white films.
More predictable collaborators were film-industry professionals screenwriter Henrik Galeen who co-wrote The Golem and director of photography Fritz Arno Wagner, one of the three top cameramen at Ufa. Nosferatu is a film about networks of contagion and contamination that are also networks of secret and subversive communication. The French surrealists admired Nosferatu mainly for its eroticism, contrasting the anodyne puppy-love of Mina and Harker with Nosferatu's necrophiliac lust, musty and potent at once, exuding the aroma of dank crypts and leathery flesh.
According to Robin Wood, on the other hand, sexuality is branded in Murnau's films as the source of evil: Nosferatu stands for raw carnal desire which must be kept in check in the interest of higher spiritual values, and so Mina, expressing that mixture of desire, curiosity and horror typical of patriarchal culture's depiction of female sexuality, must die along with the vampire.
But the love triangles in the film also lend themselves to an interpretation that brings out a more layered structure of sexual attraction and ambivalence. For instance, underlying the secret heterosexual bond between Nosferatu and Mina is the Renfield-Harker-Nosferatu relation. The initial situation suggests that the film superimposes two plotlines, one heterosexual, the other developed around the homosexual relationship between Nosferatu and Renfield doubled by the homosocial story of Harker being befriended by Renfield, whereupon the older man introduces his younger friend to a very 'experienced' queen.
Some believed, or were encouraged to believe, that Murnau had taken the role or that The Count was playing himself. Such tales are unfortunately untrue.
Schreck had an undistinguished film career apart from his role as the vampire, appearing in Murnau's The Grand Duke's Finances the year after Nosferatu. Murnau himself had been a student of, then actor and finally assistant to Reinhardt before the war, taking up filmmaking in Murnau was a perfectionist and a name alone would not have been sufficient reason to cast someone in a pivotal role. Here the relationship is more predatory than sexual. This is the natural order.
The fatal disease is due to the parasite feeding off the living. Van Helsing shows his students a Venus fly-trap devouring a fly and a polyp with mouth and tentacles consuming its live victim. Life is the fear of death and disease.
Lengthy excerpts from other films by F. Two music tracks are supplied. This explains for the new English intertitles of Framelines Graphics, but alas also for the fuzzy, low-resolution picture. The picture is windowboxed. German with optional French or English subtitles Extras: The transfer doesn't render any of its qualities: Enno Patalas [Perhaps Patalas' judgement is too severe here, as Bram Blijleven 's captures show a satisfying quality.
Nosferatu the Vampyre | Reelviews Movie Reviews
New intertitles, the same as on the Eureka disc. Tinting colours are worse than on the DVD: Then there is a Tim Howard organ score in stereo. Howard's score is rooted in the music of the 19th century, the setting of the story. There is not only greater image detail there is greater image information extracted from shadow portions of the picture. There is now a more stable image from frame to frame, with fewer and less pronounced fluttering exposure fluctuations.
The video transfer has utilized different 35mm materials than the old edition. The new transfer also features an open framing that exceeds the old transfer in the inclusion of more image information on all sides of the picture, but varies from shot to shot.