For he who fights and runs away
May live to fight another day;
But he who is in battle slain
Can never rise and fight again.
Last night I watched both Nosferatu movies. I believe they are best reviewed together since Herzog’s remake of the silent film is in many ways an homage. Almost all of the “dialog” of the silent film is reused word for word. The appearance of the Dracula character and even the sets have been constructed to mimic the look of the originals. Mercifully, the science of motion picture imaging had progressed tremendously between 1922 and 1979 so the picture quality of the latter film has none of the pioneering qualities of its predecessor. Night scenes weren’t shot during the day and there is sound so the actors can restrain their pantomime gesturing. But that being said it is essentially the same story.
In this version of Dracula, Renfield is a “land agent,” sort of a nineteenth century realtor and he employs Jonathon Harker to go to Transylvania to sign papers to buy a house in Bremen, Germany. Jonathon leaves his wife Nina behind fretting about his safety. When he gets to the environs of Castle Dracula the townsfolk warn him about spooky stuff but he goes anyway. Dracula meets him and signs the papers and then feeds off of Harker for a few days, packs his dirt boxes and drives off with horse and wagon. Harker escapes from the castle, and after recuperating for some time in the village heads for home by horse.
Dracula takes the slow boat across the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, and the North Sea to Bremen. Enroute, he sucks the life out of the crew so that the boat drifts into Bremen with only the captain’s lifeless body tied to the ship’s wheel. Somehow Dracula sneaks off the boat and takes up residence in the house across the street from the Harkers. Dracula also brings a goodly supply of plague rats with him and the town starts dying off of the bubonic plague in droves.
While Dracula was enroute by ship Renfield is somehow driven mad and starts eating flies and biting animals and people to get blood. He is cast into a mad house but eventually escapes and capers around town awaiting “the master” and acting like a gibbering idiot.
All this time Nina has been suffering mentally from the strain of worrying about Jonathon and because she seems to be a clinically depressed heroine. When he arrives, she reads this book on vampires that Jonathon has specifically told her not to read. This disobedience seemed the most realistic detail of the movie. Nina reads that a pure spirited woman who offers her blood freely to the vampire can keeps him drinking until dawn. And at that point the sun will destroy him. Nina feigns illness and sends Jonathon to get a doctor. She invites Dracula to her home and he falls for the trick and is evaporated in a puff of smoke. Jonathon and the Doctor arrive just in time for Nina to greet Jonathon and expire from exsanguination.
In the 1979 version the ending is less positive. When Nina expires Jonathon, who has been slowly becoming a vampire for the last few days goes full Nosferatu and escapes the town on horseback to start his own reign of death somewhere else.
So, what about these movies? The silent version is a product of German Expressionism and uses bizarre and unreal imagery to evoke the sense of fear and dread. The Dracula character is a cartoonish figure. He is exaggeratedly tall and gaunt, has a dead white skin color, an elongated hairless head, protruding front teeth and ridiculously long and curved fingernails. The sets at Castle Dracula showcase bizarre architectural details like the odd shaped doors and the monolithic walls in the crypt. Everything is unnatural and bizarre. I would say for a silent film this is a successful visual representation of a horror story. But remember, it’s a silent film. That means the acting is painfully exaggerated to pantomime the meaning. Both of the Harkers are always gesticulating and grimacing to let you know they are emoting something or other. I think very few modern viewers can get past the staginess of silent films to enjoy the story as a story. So, it’s a successful silent horror film but I couldn’t recommend it to the general audience.
As for Werner Herzog’s 1979 homage, that’s more of something we can discuss in normal movie terms. I’d call it an art film. It goes a long way to provide good cinematography, good (if odd) acting and a rationale for the actions of the primary characters. Dracula even gets to tell of his ennui and his envy for those who can die. And he invests the characters with a reasonable level of personality above what was provided in the silent film. There is even a small amount of humor thrown in, primarily around the character of Renfield but what struck me as funniest was a scene at the very end of the movie. Dr. Van Helsing is holding a bloody stake that he has used to permanently kill Dracula. Two town officials arrive on the scene and Jonathon denounces Van Helsing to them stating that the doctor has murdered good old Count Dracula. The magistrate orders his underling to have Van Helsing arrested and jailed for murder but the subordinate argues with him that there are no police left to arrest him, no jailors left to imprison him and no town officials left to charge and try him.
Herzog has succeeded in making an atmospheric, artistic horror film. It’s not particularly frightening but it attempts to adhere to the spirit of the original Dracula story, a sort of late nineteenth century gothic fairy tale. So, my recommendation is restricted to people who enjoy art films. And it wouldn’t kill a horror fan to watch it. It just might not be completely what he would be hoping for. So, there’s my Halloween day horror review that I promised.
Today I spent a good chunk of the day on fiction writing. And it was very productive and I think successful. But the trade off is no time for web site work. I’m going to have to get much more efficient at splitting my time between the two tasks. Tonight I am employed watching the 1922 and 1979 versions of Nosferatu. The original is a silent film that is without a doubt a puzzling experience for the modern audience. The film quality is terrible, the special effects are non-existent and the acting is highly stylized if I want to put it politely. The 1979 version is titled Nosferatu the Vampyre and was directed by Werner Herzog. I just started it but it looks like it could be okay. I hope to have the review out tonight.
Silence gives consent.
When I was just a young kid, I started reading science fiction. And why not? Science fiction was all about rocket ships and there were real rocket ships going into real space right before my eyes. And one of my favorite authors was Robert Heinlein. He wrote all about the early days of man’s conquest of the universe. And he built his own fictional universe with a “Future History” timeline that talked about how all this progress would effect mankind. And one of the things he “predicted” was “The Crazy Years.” These were tucked into the 1960’s and would involve the breakdown of social mores and widespread confusion and anti-social trends. Reading it makes it sound very much like what the actual sixties were like. And the prediction was that this breakdown of societal stability would lead to wars and revolution and dictatorships to address the lack of order. By the 1980’s I was feeling bad for old Pops Heinlein when we didn’t fall into chaos. After all Ronald Reagan had reestablished order on the shining city on a hill.
Well, time has shown me that I was too impatient. I didn’t wait long enough for the end of the Crazy Years. And who better to officiate at the climax of the Crazy Years than a dementia patient? Good Old Joe Biden. Joe has taken it upon himself to finish off the American republic for good and all. He’s not working around the edges like his boy Obama. No, he’s got his knife right at the throat and is just waiting to have Congress put the bowl out to catch the blood so they can pass it over to their vampires to gorge on.
But the Future History timeline also showed that eventually the Crazy Years would be ended by serious men. They would organize and topple the insane governments that allowed their people to be victimized by the insane and the lawless. Usually in Heinlein’s stories they would be military or former military men. Only after order was restored would civilian government be restored. But even then, things wouldn’t go back to the way they had been. A lesson had been learned.
So, I have two questions.
- How long, if ever, will it take for men to emerge who will say this has gone far enough and we’re going to fix this?
- Will any changes be put in place to prevent the madness from coming back?
I’ve been trying to answer these hypothetical questions. Probably it’s just a fantasy with little or no science to it. But it makes me feel better to think I’m at least looking ahead. If I was going to guess I’d say that it will happen in some area of the country where the proportion of normal people is still fairly high. And how it will happen is that some city in this healthy area will start causing serious damage to the people in the suburbs and rural areas. After that, the state government will try to address this situation and the federal government will try to prevent them. And that’s where the flashpoint will occur. If the state gets Washington to back down that will set the pattern for greater and greater state autonomy and less and less power by Washington. And once the other Red States see this, they will follow suit. That will be the tipping point to changing what is happening across the country. New laws will be made to address the underlying causes of the instability and lawlessness and at some point, the Red States and the Blue States will have to recognize and formalize the changes to the way they interact.
But if the federal government crushes the state’s attempt to end urban lawlessness, then it will take a much longer time for vigilantes to start self-policing their local areas. It will be a grassroots movement and it will be fought by the FBI investigating disappearances of known felons who went too far out of their home turf and just vanished.
Now, how long will it take to reach these places? For something to be done by the states, that could happen tomorrow. Let’s say anytime in the next few years. For grassroots vigilantism to become a widespread phenomenon, I guess it depends on how violent the attacks become. But I’d say it might take five or ten years for people to get desperate enough to stake their lives on it. These are just guesses.
As for my second question, what changes will be put in place in a new national government. I would say that the biggest changes would be mandatory gun ownership, codified right to state secession from the Union and permanent migrant control policies. If I were to add anything to these three things, I’d add outlaw affirmative action and female suffrage and restore an all-normal male armed forces and finally start taxing companies based on what percentage of their workforce is in the United States.
So, the bad news is, unless some governor successfully backs the federal government down on the lawlessness they’ve unleashed, it could take a decade for a grassroots vigilantism movement to mature into something powerful enough to take hold and move us toward the restoration of order.
So, there’s my crack at being a right-wing Nostradamus. In most of Heinlein’s books revolts went along with a lot of bloody battles. And there was no guarantee that outside forces wouldn’t lob in some nukes to make it interesting. But I gave you my best shot. What’s your thoughts?
Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law.