In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.
Wisbourg, Germany based estate agent Knock dispatches his associate, Hutter, to Count Orlok's castle in Transylvania as the Count wants to purchase an isolated house in Wisbourg. They plan on selling him the one across the way from Hutter's own home. Hutter leaves his innocent wife, Ellen, with some friends while he is away. Hutter's trek is an unusual one, with many locals not wanting to take him near the castle where strange events have been occurring. Once at the castle, Hutter does manage to sell the Count the house, but he also notices and feels unusual occurrences, primarily feeling like there is a dark shadow hanging over him, even in the daytime when the Count is unusually asleep. Hutter eventually sees the Count's sleeping chamber in a crypt, and based on a book he has recently read, believes the Count is really a vampire or Nosferatu. While Hutter is trapped in the castle, the Count, hiding in a shipment of coffins, makes his way to Wisbourg, causing death along his way, ... Written by
Ruth Landshoff, the actress who played the hero's sister, once described a scene in which she fled the vampire, running along a beach. That scene is not in any version of the film, nor in the original script. See more »
(at around 52 mins) The captain of the ship carrying Count Orlok ties himself to the wheel with a 'granny knot', which may slip loose, rather than the correct sailors' 'reef knot'. See more »
For copyright reasons, Bram Stoker's novel was filmed with the names of the characters changed (Orlok for Dracula, for example) but otherwise the story remains the same: a young man goes on a trip to see a mysterious count in order to sell a house, leaving his bride behind, and finds that the creature he meets is not of this world.
As the extremely creepy Orlok, Max Schreck is brilliant, with his long fingernails and gaunt appearance. A triumph in early cinematic make-up. Gustav von Wangenheim portrays the confusion of the victim well, as does Greta Schroder as his wife. FW Murnau directed the film with flair, showing us not only shadowed vistas and abandoned castles, but the nature outside (foxes) and miniature worlds evolving under a microscope. This film sits well with his later 'Sunrise' in showing the effect of outside forces on a young couple, as well as being one of the key early horrors in its portrayal of Stoker's anti-hero.
This version of the Dracula tale remains one of the best, although all have some different perspective on the novel. On the strength of 'Nosferatu' alone, Murnau deserves his place as a true innovator of silent cinema.
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