Day 50, No. 50. Klaus Kinski as Dracula

Klaus KinskiHAIRCUT 100: Day 50, No. 50. We’ve reach the halfway point in our Top 100 Hairless Heroes, and I hope you’ve noticed that I’ve never missed a day! As you’ll recall, this is a personal project in aid of Alopecia Awareness Month, listing people I admire – both real and imagined – who just so happen to be bald; a look, I might add, they carry off with style and aplomb. As my modest compendium began with Max Schreck’s Noferatu, it is in every way appropriate to mark the midpoint in my journey with Klaus Kinski as Dracula in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979), a beautiful re-imagining of F.W. Murnau’s iconic Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922), a defining moment in the history of the haunted screen. Visionary director Herzog considered the original Nosferatu the greatest of all German films, and had long planned to re-make it, with friend and collaborator Kinski in the title role. As Bram Stoker’s Dracula had by this point entered the public domain, Herzog, unlike Murnau, was able to directly cite the novel, thus Kinski is ‘Dracula’ rather than ‘Count Orlok.’ In common with Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (1976), Herzog and Kinski explore the vampire as a figure of tragic loneliness; lost in time, unloved, and doomed to immortality: ‘Death is not the worst. There are things more horrible than death. The absence of love is the most abject pain.’ The visual style is gothic at its most gorgeous, not hyper-real and gaudy but muted and painterly. Chiaroscuro light modelling adds a sense of Renaissance painting to the Expressionism of the original film, and shadowy interiors are juxtaposed with sublime, Romantic landscapes; the seamless merging of the history of European art also suggesting the antiquity of the vampire king. Roger Ebert praised Herzog’s control of the colour palette, his off-centre compositions, and his dramatic counterpoint of light and dark. ‘Here is a film that does honour to the seriousness of vampires,’ he wrote, ‘if they were real, here is how they must look.’

Please click here for Day 51

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