Friday, June 06, 2014

Nosferatu – the Vampyre – review

Author: Paul Monette

First published: 1979

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Nosferatu… The Undead… Count Dracula… a name that will always whisper of the unspeakable, of sensuous evil, of the pinnacle of the sado-erotic, of death that travels on silken batwings.

A lonely, wraith-like figure, doomed to wander forever in the realm of twilight in search of the alluring and lovely woman, whose destiny is to defeat him only by submission… the giving of herself from the dusk until dawn.

Nosferatu – the name under which the vampire myth first reached the screen – is now recreated by Werner Herzog as a sensual and haunting masterpiece of cinema. Eighty years after Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Paul Monette’s outstanding novel once more breathes life into the ultimate myth of evil…

The review: If Dracula, the novelisation of the 1992 film seemed pointless due to its alleged closeness to the original novel then this novelisation was welcome as the film ploughed its own furrow distinct from the original novel.

The book is as evocative as the script it is based on and, like many novelisations, one wonders whether those aspects different to the film were born of an early script draft or the imagination of the author. I liked the idea that the affected perfection of Wismar (a false perfection as we scratch at the surface) almost causes its own downfall. The letter from Dracula employing Renfield’s firm is delivered by raven, which made me wonder whether it was Dracula in animal form – especially as Harker sees a strange man in black at the same time. However the raven remains on the outskirts of Wismar, a servant of the vampire, we discover.

The character of Mina is much more developed in the book (Mina and Lucy’s names are swapped, so Lucy is Jonathon’s wife). We also see more into Van Helsing’s actions, though he is still too blinded by science to see what is happening in the town (the film makes Van Helsing impotent). Dracula seeks out Lucy because there is a link, beyond the fact that she is Jonathon’s wife. Lucy is, Dracula believes, destined to be his queen.

It is an interesting companion to the film, though the evocative prose can, at times, drift languidly like a dream (the same could be said of some of the more picturesque scenes within the film, especially the longer German edit) but it may only be of interest to the fans of the film rather than a wider readership. 6.5 out of 10.

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