Herzog had been vocal in his admiration for F.W. Murnau’s deathless 1922 film, even referring to it as the greatest in German cinema history. His remake serves as a fascinating bridge from the New German Cinema movement of the 1970s to the Expressionist era.
The film is less faithful to Stoker’s novel than it is to Murnau’s film, but begins in the familiar setting of Transylvania, where Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) meets Count Dracula (Kinski), who soon after moves to London after becoming enchanted by a portrait of Jonathan’s wife, Lucy (Isabelle Adjani), thus drawing the attention of Dr. Van Helsing (Walter Ladengast). Where Herzog and his star diverge most interestingly from orthodoxy is in their focus on the abject loneliness of the immortal count, and his desire for love, making for a figure that elicits audience sympathy even as it invokes terror.