Wisbourg, Germany based estate agent Knock dispatches his associate, Hutter, to Count Orlok's castle in Transylvania as the Count wants to purchase a 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
They don't make films like this faded, haunting masterpiece of silent cinema anymore.
When Dracula was first put on sale for movie rights; the one of the first men to grab it was F.W.Murnau one of the most of the famous German directors of his time. By the time word got back to them about using the rights of the name and storyline of Dracula (Owned by the rights of Florence's widow.) Murnau had alread started production on the film; so to get around it they cut out the name 'Dracula' and replaced it with Count Orlok, Jonathan Harker became Hutter and Ban Helsing became Professor Bulwer; Orlock stalks the gothic streets of Bremen instead of Vistorian London.
What is so different from Nosferatu and many of the others films of the time was that most of the film was shot on actually locations around Eastern Europe; the production hardly used any studio sets. What makes the most haunting feature tho is the sense of realism and the expressionism (most evident in the interiors od Orlok's Castle) that gives the film its hypnotic visual power.
If there is any film a film student would need to have in his/her collection, it's this film. Although it is a hard task to find any surving copies. The reason for this is when the film was released Florence Stoker (widow of the author of Dracula) noticed the comparsion; she pursued the case relentlessly and in July 1925 a German court ordered all prints of the film to be destroyed. Luckily for us several prints of the film survived; a few in which have still been lost over the last few 8 decades.
But thanks to the 2000 release of 'Shadow of a Vampire' a film which looks behind the filming of Nosferatu and starring John Malkovich (F.W.Murnau) and Willem Dafoe (Count Orlok) the film was released for the first time on DVD in it's full original length of 94 minutes.
Sadly soon after the film hit America in 1929; at the age of 43; Murnau was killed in a car crash.
"Men must die. Nosferatu does not die!" proclaimed the original publcity for the film. We can only hope it's the truth for this film.
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