Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Nosferatu – review

Author: Rafael Nieves

Artist: Ken Holewczynski

First Published: 2017

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Beyond the Carpathian Mountains, in the land called Transylvania, there lived a monster that preyed on men and fed on their blood. It crossed the great sea, driven by a greater need than the bloodlust, to seek out a woman of great beauty and great power. From Caliber Comics comes a comic adaptation of F. W. Murnau’s 1920's classic German silent feature film that was the first incarnation in cinema of the 'Dracula' legend of life and undeath. A film many have heard of but have not seen.

The review: I should love this, the film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens rendered into graphic novel format. Unfortunately, it left me cold.

sample page

The edition is short, only some 62 pages and the artwork, whilst competent within the pages (I was unsure about the cover) is, unfortunately, not of a style that resonated with me. I think it was too soft, too lacking detail for my taste. The story takes some liberties with the original narrative – some because (I’m sure) they seemed like a good idea, some to somewhat modernise… So Hutter (Hutter taken as a surname and him given the name Johann) tells Ellen that Knock told him not to take her to Transylvania because of perceived dangers (which feels like a modernisation along with her choosing to visit, at Hutter’s suggestion, her friend rather than being deposited with the Hardings, though the name change from Ruth Harding to Annie feels like it was a change for change’s sake). However, Ellen asking if there isn’t “someone more expendable” that Knock could send feels off for the character we know from the film and undermines the climax, if one thinks about it.

One aspect that piqued my attention was around Ellen sensing the approach to town of… well in the film you can read it as a connection already forged with the vampire or read it as sensing her approaching husband – I favour the latter reading. In this Ellen goes to the dock as the Empusa arrives and, there on the dock, is Hutter. Now with my first read it did seem as though he had arrived on the same ship as Orlock, somehow. However (almost invisible in the print) there is a horse there. In the film Ellen leaves the Harding’s and goes to her home, meeting Hutter there (though at the same time Orlock goes to his new home opposite theirs). This almost suggested the first reading, that she sensed Orlock, and Hutter intercepted her at the dock. There was an idea here that needed more unpacking.

Be that as it may, this is a short comic, the art is competent but not to my taste, there are story changes that, for the most part, add nothing or even undermine the narrative. Not my favourite graphic release. 4 out of 10.

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK

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