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Nosferatu: Phantom Of The Night at Leopold’s Books Bar Caffè patio
October 2, 2022 @ 8:00 pm - 9:50 pmFree
Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski) looms over the bed of Lucy Harker (Isabelle Adjani), putting her under his spell.
Start spooky season and horror month off right with an outdoor screening of Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu: Phantom Of The Night (1979), a stylistic reinterpretation of F. W. Murnau’s silent classic of German Expressionism. It’s also the final film of the season on Leopold’s patio. (For these chilly nights, bring a blanket.)
Inspired by the Romantic paintings of Caspar David Friedrich, Murnau’s 1922 film is often regarded as the archetype and the pillar for gothic horror cinema. Rather than attempting to ape that aesthetic, Herzog leans into his own idiosyncratic proclivities at the height of his prolific era of New German Cinema with an ethereal atmosphere and glowing mysticism.
Besides the comparative pleasures in the casting and visual composition (including some shot-for-shot translation), Phantom Of The Night boasts a raga rock-inflected neoclassical new age score by Popol Vuh. It distinctively envelops the film’s otherworldly Transylvanian universe, which beckons Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) to close a real estate deal with Count Dracula (a perennially lurking Klaus Kinski, who adopts more humanistic features than Max Schreck’s original grisly Orlok).
Herzog lends a progressively macabre sense of humor to the final act’s plague infestation. Consider the group who lavishly dines in the throes of death, being overtaken by rats. But it’s Doctor Van Helsing (Walter Ladengast) who more soberly attempts to counter the pervasive doom and gloom with a speech on science ushering in a new world, lifting it out of the literal shadows, as his rationality clashes against Jonathan’s wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani)’s superstitious faith.
If Murnau was constructing his own language of silent cinema by way of landscape paintings of the 19th century, Herzog and cinematographer Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein may have borrowed their own from Giorgio de Chirico, who was also a notable inspiration to Fumito Ueda and Team Ico when rendering one of this century’s most influential adventure games, Ico (2001). —Grant Phipps
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