Werner Herzog Donald Barthelme

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Donald Barthelme

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In "Nosferatu," Herzog has desexualized the [vampire] story, in two ways: first by a stress on the classic 1922 Murnau version which gives his own film an air of pious recreation, and, second, by a bothersome uncertainty of tone. The film is very much of a piece with his "Woyzeck" …, as if he had set out to make a pair of salon paintings to be placed at either end of some vast museum gallery. Herzog makes abundant references not only to Murnau but to his own previous films. A shot of coffins on a raft immediately recalls the voyaging raft in "Aguirre, the Wrath of God."… (pp. 183-84)

The problem [in "Nosferatu"] is that Herzog was unable to bring new life to his much-handled material. I assume he thought he had a viable approach in conceiving of the film as being "after," as it's phrased, Murnau. He's better at creating new myth; at this, he has few peers. (p. 184)

Donald Barthelme, "The Current Cinema: 'Nosferatu'," in The New Yorker (© 1979 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.), Vol. LV, No. 35, October 15, 1979, pp. 182-84.∗