Nosferatu, fantôme de la nuit ( Werner Herzog)


The sacrifice of the city

Wismar, 19 century, a young man, Jonathan Harker leave in The Carpathians to negotiate the sale of a house with the count Dracula. Villagers try to dissuade him from visiting Dracula because it is well known in the region, that the count is other than a vampire. Jonathan is however going to visit him, on foot but he falls very fast under the influence of the count. Jonathan becomes his prisoner. Moved by Lucy's photography, his wife, Dracula decides to join her to Virna and goes by boat in the city with rats hidden in coffins, to transmit the plague there. Lucy is ready for anything to sacrifice to come at the end of the monster, at dawn...

It is the remake of the movie Nosferatu the vampire of Murnau, remake which I find very successful and very personal. Herzog managed to regain control to it, to regain control the myth of the vampire. Here, the artist is interested in the friction between dream and reality. In this movie, the film-maker offers his own version of Nosferatu, an obsessing movie of a great beauty, thanks to the voluntarily slow rhythm appearing as an allegory of the danger, the herald of who is to come. Also thanks to the oppostition between the world of the deaths and that of the alive with the very important notion of space, which appears as a projection of the soul of the protagonists, with his big areas and the sea, and the opening scene: a long travelling platform which presents a continuation of mummies, tangible of the death.

The atmosphere of this movie remains strange and mesmerizing all the length and maintains in breath her spectator with, first of all, the oppressive music of the German group Popol Vuh and that of Wagner. The passage between the land of the living and the deaths, the world of the reality and the disturbing onirism, symbolized through a cave where the light is choked, contrasting with the brook, the source of life; a fascinating arrival in a tunnel in bluish tones, then the long crossing by boat very disturbing also with an impression of gravity and a lugubrious music training a funeral march. All this, the sound, colors, light, gets married marvelously to form, according to me, a real spectacular landscape.

The main actors play their role marvelously. We find, first of all, Isabelle Adjani, who plays Lucy's role and seems to play the lead role of the story: An ice-cold beauty which knows to be condemned. She is the character between life and death. Several indications are given to us, of the medallion with her photo and her hair, in her paleness and her white dress ghostly, including the expectation in the cemetery. She comes out a dead woman deferred there, and makes premonitory dreams, as if she possessed a telepathic link with her murderer. We also see her in the middle of the plague victims. Isabelle Adjani so looks like a ghost, an illusion, a fancy. Nosferatu is irreparably attracted by this creature of flesh which looks like him, by this translucent presence. Two universes return then in collision, that of the dreams and that of the reality. Soon in the grip of the claws hands of Nosferatu who desires her, she will let the count make of her his victim and sacrifices her blood to the vampire to save the city.

Klaus Kinski, in the role of Nosferatu: The main difference between both movies, that of Murnau and that of Herzog, live in the character of the vampire. Cruel but noble in Murnau, he is vulnerable and sad in Herzog, who makes pity.

This Nosferatu, more than a predator, is the prey of a fate which has never know neither love nor death. He is excluded from the world: excluded from the real world, and condemned to roam up to the end of time because he is immortal. He is a slave of the people, the real world, needs them to draw his strength. This world is only a prison for him, and it is going to be brought to destroy him and to die for a dream of love: " the absence of love is the worst suffering ".

By coming to look for the city of Mina, the vampire spreads his territory on the city. The inhabitants are taken then little by little in the rays of the world of the vampire, in the dream world. Nosferatu is thus the main element of the intrigue. By breathing all its sweetness, its sadness to the character of Nosferatu, the actor made a creature of unforgettable cinema.

Jonathan, in Bruno Ganz's role is the character who drives to the progress of the intrigue, who crosses these two real and imaginary worlds. Jonathan sees the reality splitting. Villagers tell him that the castle of Nosferatu exists only in the imagination of the men and we understand that he has to make the path between the reality and the dreams to penetrate in the field of the creature. Jonathan makes us feel physically the passage between the territory of the alive and that of the shadows in a magnificent sequence which owes to the German expressionism a lot. By crossing this passage, between the world of the dreams and the reality, he is going to wake Nosferatu.

In the end, in this movie, everything is question of contamination: Mina and Jonathan by the vampire, the city by the plague, Nosferatu by the humanity, the reality by the dream. There are so two central movements: the contamination of the reality by the shadows and the dreams and the contamination of the monster by love. So by resuming a classic, Werner Herzog, assured the survival of a myth.

If I had to note this movie, I shall give him 4 stars onto 5.