A couple nights ago, I watched Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu: The Vampyre.
I’d never seen it before, and honestly, I’m sort of woefully ignorant when it comes to Herzog in general– this is only the third movie of his I’ve ever seen (although the first, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, is undeniably a masterpiece). I haven’t seen Fitzcarraldo, or Aguirre: Wrath of God, or even Grizzly Man.
At least now I’ve seen Nosferatu.
I’m glad I finally did. This movie is beautiful in a lot of ways. The pacing is so deliberate as to be almost oppressive, with minute-long shots of rolling clouds and flapping bats. The shooting locations are gorgeous in every instance, and Herzog really has an eye for framing and lighting. The entire movie just oozes ambiance.
The color palette is muted and beautiful, and in keeping with (what I imagine) the historical look and feel of the Carpathian mountains (and the wee villages therein) would actually have been: muted beiges, browns, slate stone.
There are a number of absolutely gorgeous set-pieces: sumptuous feasts that appear unbidden (and apparently unprepared by human hands); Harker and Renfield’s real-estate offices, brimming with dusty books and papers; Count Dracula’s run-down and semi-abandoned castle, which has this beautiful clock in it:
Of course, Klaus Kinski is amazing and disgusting and terrifying.
The movie is quite literally a retelling of Dracula, so it seems a bit pointless to get in here and break down the plot points and story arc. Where the movie really shines is just in Herzog’s eye, the fantastic acting, the costume and set design, and the fantastic new-age soundtrack by Popul Vuh.
And the rats.
This movie has so many rats in it, you guys.
The reason I decided to watch this movie, after being aware of it and not watching it for two decades, is that this last weekend, the aforementioned incredible soundtrack came out as a double-LP gatefold on Waxwork Records. It is packaged in an absolutely gorgeous manner.
The art is by one of my favorite artists of all time, Jessica Seamans. She also did the interior gatefold art, which was also published this last weekend as a limited edition giclee print called “Opfer der Pest,” by THE VACVVM. She even did these beautiful little bats on the sticker labels of the B-sides of each of the LPs. I’m a total fanboy for her art– I have about a dozen of her art prints, and a small handful of her original art (including a piece for which I have some kind of ridiculous framing plans).
I love this record. I love this soundtrack. I was afraid the movie would be crummy.
I needn’t have worried.