Once it started to sink in just how serious this coronavirus thing was going to get, and just how much it was going to affect my life, this one image started popping into my head. It’s been with me constantly ever since. I don’t mean to suggest that what is happening to us right now is anywhere near as serious as what was happening in this scene replaying in my mind. I’m merely saying that I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
The scene took place in NOSFERATU: PHANTOM DER NACHT, the remake of the silent masterpiece written and directed by Werner Herzog—that is to say, the remake was Herzog’s, not the original—and starring Klaus Kinski in the lead, the role for which, to me, he will be remembered more than for any other. The scene takes place towards the end of the film, where the people have set up a table out in the street, dining on the best food and drinking fine wine while surrounded by rats. Believing they are about to perish, victims of the pestilence that Nosferatu has brought with him, they are determined to enjoy what little time they have left to live.
Again, I don’t mean to suggest that I think we’re all doomed. But the image of enjoying what we have in the moment, while we have it, is appealing at this time. It’s also appealing to put myself in Nosferatu’s shoes. He didn’t have to worry about the pestilence, any pestilence, because he *was* the pestilence.