A sort of film review…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s heraldic term is ‘raguly’ – a line of partition on a shield rather like battlements, but set obliquely. (Raguly)
I used to have battlements raguly on my shield, but I found them irritating and had them replaced by ordinary battlements.

Late the other evening, on an impulse I clicked on my remote to record a film that was just about to start on Film 4; it was by that highly regarded, and arty German director, Werner Herzog; it was Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979). I had never seen it, but I had heard people talk about it in glowing terms, and I thought that I should give it a try. I suppose I was expecting something which had the style and class of F. W. Murnau’s silent version of the tale (1922) with the suitably creepy Max Schreck as Count Dracula (Max Schreck – gosh, what a great name!). (Nosferatu)
Oh dear, I’m afraid that it is confession time now dear reader. I managed to stick with this film for only about 15 minutes of its hour-and-three-quarters length. I could tell very early on that it was going to be ponderous and slow-moving, and yes, even bad
A couple of things are worth mentioning though. The first which made me smile was the scene early on with Jonathan Harker saying goodbye to his moody fragile looking wife Lucy at the front of their house before buzzing off to Transylvania. As they stood there on the steps, a poignant moment, the left-hand third of the frame was occupied by the back half of a horse, I suppose you could say ‘a horse’s arse’, presumably it was the beast he was about to jump up on and gallop off in the direction of the Carpathians. This humorous interlude lasted a good half-minute with the rear end of the big brown restless horse dominating the scene and successfully undermining several lines of vital pithy dialogue between the couple. How I smiled… is this what is called Schadenfreude?
I had more or less given up on the film by then, but out of curiosity, I did fast-forward to have a quick look at the famous chiselled cheeks of Klaus Kinski as the count. I expect Werner had had a couple of looks at the 1922 version because Klaus had plenty of white makeup blathered on his face and was sporting silly long spiky fingers and nails just like Max’s. I laughed… Yes, I did, he was quite comic. I did for a moment wonder whether I had the wrong end of the stick and this film was a spoof, a comedy, but no, I think it was meant to be serious, a bit too serious possibly…
I couldn’t help thinking of Terrence Fisher’s Hammer film Dracula which came out 21 years earlier; now that was everything a vampire film should be: scary, stylish and classy, with atmosphere, good-looking sets and lighting, and with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in it. I’ll bet Werner didn’t bother having a look at that one before he made a start on his..

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in art, British film, drama, Film, heraldry, history, humour, information, style, TV, words and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A sort of film review…

  1. I do like your interesting review – although I have never seen the film itself. I have seen the old Dracula, which was quite wonderful. I noticed you mentioned recording something – for some reason this makes me think you still have a video recorder?

  2. You are old Father William …

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