Nosferatu – (1979) Werner Herzog

I loved watching this film and I love the original 1922 silent F W Murnau version.  I seem to be getting into quite a ghoulish spirit this Halloween.

Aside from the beautiful aesthetics and sad beauty of Lucy Harker (which are in keeping with the original 1922 film) I was fascinated by the slight philosophical and in fact existential tilt of this remake.  Some of the dialogue, particularly the darkly-frozen silences between Harker and Dracula – the moments where Dracula speaks of being tormented in unending centuries, and that time is an abyss he has in some ways fallen into condemned – these point to a wider subtle consideration.  A re-reading of the legend, so to speak.  As mortal beings we live a life of finite futility, we seek our fantasies of meaning but are always doomed to come undone.  The existential slant placed on Nosferatu by Herzog is something far more worthy of pity and stark incomprehension: immortal futility.  What if you were unable to die, but still lived without meaning?  What if you lived all the while hunting meaning, hunting blood, but were never satiated?  This is something all the more frightening because it upends our traditional and rarely questioned assumptions.  If life is without meaning, suspending the intervention of death rather than being a relief might in fact be an amplified horror – turning us into ever more desperate searches for meaning….

We can in fact envisage no grace, but mortality in a way shields us from the full glare of an inconceivable void.  The film is beautiful, and gives perspective in philosophical inflections to a condemned character: Nosferatu himself.

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