Blu-ray Review: NOSFERATU, THE VAMPYRE (1979)

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REVIEW: NOSFERATU, THE VAMPYRE / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: WERNER HERZOG / SCREENPLAY: WERNER HERZOG / STARRING: KLAUS KINSKI, BRUNO GANZ, ISABELLE ADJANI, ROLAND TOPOR / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

As part of the upcoming Werner Herzog Collection, this 1979 classic finally gets a Blu-ray release. Herzog’s legendary vampire movie is a remake of sorts of F.W. Murneau’s 1922 Nosferatu, whilst also pulling other elements from Bram Stoker’s original source. When Count Dracula (Kinski) shows interest in purchasing a property, Jonathan Harker (Ganz) is sent to the Count’s Transylvanian lair to seal the deal. Of course, Dracula is revealed to be a vampire, and the Count sets his eyes on the affections of Harker’s ‘one true’, Lucy (Adjani).

Now we’ve all seen plenty of vampire movies over the years, so what makes this one so different? It’s no exaggeration to say that Nosferatu, the Vampyre is a masterpiece. The film is awash with style, texture and atmosphere. Visually stunning, complete with a haunting score, and exquisitely shot, this retelling of an old classic stands head and shoulders over nearly all of its peers. Central to all of the splendour of Herzog’s film is Klaus Kinski.

As Count Dracula, Kinski portrays a very different Dracula to the one that general audiences are accustomed to. Forget the vibrant, charismatic, charming and sexual Dracula that seduces ladies left, right and centre as if he were some gothic Don Juan. This Dracula is ghastly, ghoulish and straight-out ugly in appearance, and his face is etched with pain and suffering. This is a Dracula who has been cursed with immortality. Pained but at one with the lonely monster that he is, this version of the character is delivered stunningly by Kinski. No doubt about it, Kinski is simply mesmerising as the Count. Similarly, Ganz and Adjani are fantastic in their roles, whilst the rest of the cast are all pitch-perfect.

Nosferatu, the Vampyre is a slow-burning, delicate story that is masterfully presented by a director at his very best. Herzog’s movie is breathtakingly beautiful in the way it has been crafted and put together. The director takes his time to tell the tale of the tormented bloodsucker, and this effort is full of subtleties, both on the part of the director and of the actors involved. Not a single drop of blood is wasted here, and the film’s elegantly tragic narrative features not one moment of wasted motion.

Featuring both the English and German versions of the movie in remastered forms, this steelbook is crammed with impressive extras, including an informative audio commentary from Werner Herzog and an interesting mini-documentary featuring Herzog and star Klaus Kinski. With this Blu-ray steelbook, one of the greatest vampire movies of all time gets a fitting release. Yes, he’s often pretentious and treats animals/actors like shit, but when he gets it right, Werner Herzog is a true master of cinema.

Extras: Audio commentary with Werner Herzog / On-set documentary / Stills gallery / Trailer / 20-page booklet 


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