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Viewed by Larry Gleeson at San Luis Obispo California State
Polytechnical University's Spanos Theater as part of the 22nd Annual
SLO Film Fest, formally known as San Luis Obispo International Film
The complete 2006 digitally restored version of Nosferatu the surreal German Expressionist classic silent film by renowned director, F.W. Murnau, served as the Opening Night film for the 22nd SLO Film Fest with a new piano soundtrack performed live by German composer and pianist, Markus Horn. Most recently, Horn has performed his musical talents to another silent German film, Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang. Interestingly, Horn created this composition in the Spanos Theater specifically for Nosferatu .
Nosferatu, is similar in a stylistic vein to the classic example of German Expressionism, the 1922 silent film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with its use of unusual, odd-looking characters, geometric mise-en-scen and its abundant use of light and shadows in its storytelling. A storied production, Nosferatu, an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," was shot in 1921 and released the following year in 1922. It is very similar to "Dracula," retaining its core characters of Jonathan and Nina Harker and the Count while omitting some of the secondary characters.
Interestungly, a court ruling ordered all copies of the film destroyed after Prana Film, a short-lived, silent-era German film studio was unable to get the rights to the novel, was sued Bram Stoker's widow and eventually declared bankrupted in defending itself from copyright infringement. A few copies of the film survived as the studio undauntedly had gone forward with the production changing names and details from the original novel. For example, Count Dracula became Count Orlok, played brilliantly by Max Schreck (Schreck in German translates to terror, fitting for the roles Max Schreck undertook throughout his acting career) and the term vampire became nosferatu. In addition, Count Orlok doesn't create new vampires. Instead he killed his victims with the town folk blaming the deaths on a black plague. And, while Count Dracula was weakened by sunlight, Orlock sleeps by day as any exposure to sunlight would cause his death. In the end, Count Orlok meets his demise in drinking the blood of a young maiden, Mina, who sacrifices herself by allowing Orlok's copulation while enticing him to do so into the day's sunrise culminating in Orlok's death.
Director Murnau prided himself on utilizing various angles in his productions and Nosferatu's cinematographer, Fritz Arno Wagner, delivers. Several shots capture the eye including a film ending low angle shot of a castle in ruin representing the demise of Count Orlok. In addition, several shots on board the ship of stacked wooden coffins and the frenzied scrambling of ship rats as a coffin is opened and its contents spilled become etched in memory.
All this withstanding, the evening belonged to Markus Horn, as he mesmerized the audience with a soundtrack that brilliantly matched the photographic score in creating a dream like atmosphere for the minimalized intertitled narrative. Horn's intense symbiosis of film and music culminated in a rousing, standing ovation by an enraptured audience at the film's end.
This version of Nosferatu with the Markus Horn accompaniment and a run-time of 94 minutes left the audience wanting more. Much more. An exceptional opening film. Highly, highly recommended.
Murnau! A genius, visionary pioneer of cinema! F.W. Murnau directed
classic after classic, and among his greatest achievements are films
such as "The Last Laugh", "Sunrise", and "Tabu", but his most famous
film is, without a doubt, "Nosferatu".
"Nosferatu" is the scariest vampire movie I've ever seen. It doesn't have to rely on cheap jump-scares and over the top violence, but instead sends chills down the viewers spine with great atmosphere, directing, and an unforgettably creepy performance by Max Schreck.
Its surreal and dreamlike atmosphere manages to be created all thanks to Murnau's cinematic vision. His films reflect a true love of dreams-and "Nosferatu" feels just like a dream or, rather, like a nightmare. He's one of the cinematic pioneers that proved that film that doesn't need to be in any way lifelike, and that you can really do anything in front of a camera. The movies are magic, and that's what "Nosferatu" (and all other Murnau masterpieces) prove.
"Nosferatu" (along with "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari") is the most famous and widely beloved of the German Expressionist classics. It's a beautiful movie, and always has been, and is made all the more beautiful and haunting thanks to the way Murnau uses creepy lighting and shadows to enhance the horror.
This film is a masterpiece of the horror genre-a truly chilling classic.
I came into this film thinking I'd enjoy it. I didn't necessarily think
I was without a doubt going to call it a masterpiece, but I hoped I'd
enjoy the film, and while I do respect it for its historical
significance, it could not hold my interest very well.
First of all, I would like to address the positives. Probably the most impressive part is the cinematography. There are some great shots in this film, like when the Nosferatu is on the stairs. The compositions of these shots in the film contain plenty of shadows and a variety of shades of gray that is visually pleasing. Max Schreck's performance as Nosferatu also stands out. It's exaggerated, but just enough so that it works well and doesn't come off as ridiculous. The make up on Nosferatu is also a very helpful enhancement. Lastly, the film also featured some decent set design, especially the castle. I admired how realistic the sets frequently looked rather than having two dimensional backdrops on a stage.
Disappointingly, the movie contains a thin and often predictable plot with an overuse of title cards. The dependency on title cards got really tiring and eventually felt irritating to have to read paragraphs of text rather than seeing it shown visually on screen. Even worse, all of the characters were one dimensional. Because of this, they were too bland to be able to sympathize with or get interested in, which caused me to not care at all about what would happen to any of them or what they were trying to do. The acting in the film, other than Max Schreck's performance, can feel terribly dated. I'm sure it worked back then in the 1920s, but now a lot of it feels laughably hammy. The performance of the protagonist Hutter, for example, was so overdone that I could not take any scene he was in seriously, which often ruined the films chances at being creepy. Ultimately, due to all of these problems, it was impossible for me to care about anything within the film and therefore the moments that should have been suspenseful, creepy, or just plain interesting in general were instead dull and boring.
I have the urge to be extra generous while rating this film, since it is so old and influential, but I just can't give it more than a 4 out of 10. There's just only so much slack I can cut, and if it didn't offer much of anything interesting to me, then I'd be lying to say I liked it.
The original vampire movie. In fact, vampire movies don't come more
original than this, as it was probably the first. Great adaptation of
Bram Stoker's Dracula. Revolutionary for its time, the plot and
direction still stand up today. The atmosphere, in particular the sense
of dread, that Murnau creates is palpable, and he uses every trick of
light and shade at his disposal in doing so.
Being a silent movie, the performances are very theatrical. Max Schrek is brilliant as Nosferatu, contributing significantly to the eerie atmosphere.
Not perfect - the pacing is a bit uneven, and the plot sometimes feels contrived.
Still, an absolute classic.
One of cinemas finest achievements. Watching the original Nosferatu kind of scares me in a peculiar way, lighting effects play a major part in that. The story is nothing new these days, but if you watch it from the eyes of someone who saw it in 1920's it feel remarkable. The Masters of Cinema release I watched was beautiful, perfect score and excellent title cards. I can't find any reason not to watch this, I mean the film is short and it certainly flies bye. Most humans I know haven't seen this so I would recommend getting your hands on it and watching as soon as you can. At least it's still a better love story than Twilight.
I'm just going to start by saying, this is a scarier movie than the 1931 Dracula. I think Dracula is a better movie but in terms of fear, Nosferatu just edges out. Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula is excellent, but he played Dracula like a charming nobleman. Lugosi was even wearing a tuxedo. But Max Schreck as Count Orlok was much scarier. He was taller than Lugosi, he was bald, he had those ugly hands, and was just downright terrifying and ugly. Lugosi never really bothered me, but Schreck actually gave me the creeps and made me cringe. Orlok is even an uglier name than Dracula. The German cinematography is also creepy and it really works. It's a perfect Halloween movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I did not watch "Nosferatu" by choice. One of the modules I picked for
my first term this year in college is European Cinema, which started
off with German Expressionism. "Nosferatu" was one of the films we had
to watch, and it is, at least to me, one of the better ones.
Directed by F.W. Murnau, one of the most highly acclaimed Expressionist directors, "Nosferatu" is an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel, "Dracula." Stoker's widow was unimpressed with this, and asked for all copies of "Nosferatu" to be destroyed. Most were, but one survived, which is the print that people around the world have seen since 1922.
Set in a small German town, a cheerful young real estate agent named Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) is summoned by his shady employer, Knock (Alexander Granach), to Transylvania. He is to sell a house to the reclusive man known as Count Orloc (Max Schrek). Hutter obliges, leaving his beloved wife, Helen (Greta Schröder), pining for him at home. Hutter heads to Romania, where he is warned by locals and books of the occult that where he is heading is not safe. Not even when the carriage that is transporting him refuses to go any further sways his stubborn mind. Alas, it is only when he meets the strange Orloc that Hutter realizes things are not all well in the mountains of Transylvania. He cuts himself when eating a late dinner with his host, to which Orloc reacts with erotic flourish, "your blood... your precious blood!" Odd happenings occur at Orloc's castle, such as doors opening for the Count without him moving his hands, Hutter falling unconscious in a chair only to wake up with a peculiar mark on his neck. Most bizarre of all, is when Orloc proceeds to attack his guest on his first night, only for Helen to somehow know something is afoot, calling out her husband's name in a frenzy, distracting the vampire...
Hutter eventually discovers that his host sleeps in a coffin, and after seeing him journey away to his new home, across the road from him and his wife, Hutter escapes and tries to make his way back home. Orloc manages to kill an entire ship, leading the people of his new town to believe that they are in the midst of a plague epidemic. This is not helped when Knock, Hutter's boss, goes mad, and starts killing small animals for their blood.
Despite illness and overwhelming fear, Hutter gets home to his wife, telling her to not research into the events that are occurring. Alas, Helen finds out that the only thing that will stop the henous Orloc is if a good hearted woman gives her blood to him before the cock's first crow...
As a horror film, "Nosferatu" is more chilling than scary. It showcases many human fears, both from the time period and today. There is an underlying sexual tone, perhaps due to Murnau's sexuality (he was openly gay), where the unusually flamboyant man is seduced against his will by a creature of undetermined gender. There is Helen; is she deprived of sex from her husband (which from the amount of kissing they do seems unlikely), or does she see her husband is conflicted and offers herself to Orloc for his freedom? There is the fear of the unknown, of being possessed. Losing control of oneself, of what can not be seen or unseen. Of sickness and death. Of love and war. "Nosferatu" may not be a scary film, but, in the words of Roger Ebert, it haunts us.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is Murnau's take on the famous Dracula tale and it is exactly
these films that made Germany such a successful nation in terms of
silent movies. They did not have the quality or quantity like France or
the United States when it came to very early silent short films, but in
terms of feature films they are right there at the top. "Metropolis" is
probably the most known example, but "Nosferatu" follows right behind.
This one was made when vampires did not sparkle in the sun, but
actually die if they do not make it into their coffin quickly.
There are several runtimes listed here, but the version I saw had slightly over 1.5 hours, which is the longest and the most common as well. This is a silent movie, so all the music and sound effects (the cock noise near the end) was added later on to make this a better viewing experience. In my opinion it does improve the material, but that is a choice that everybody has to make on his own. In any case, the story is such a memorable and fascinating one that even legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog produced his own approach to the tale starring Kinski, Ganz and Adjani over 50 years later and changing some of the names as well (Hutter became Harker).
But back to this 1922 version: It's actually not that long anymore until she has its 100th anniversary. In my opinion, the best parts were the ones that included Nosferatu. Of course his presence was felt during the entire movie, but it was just so much more effective when he was seen, which he was not for almost the entire second half of the film, which is why I guess I preferred the first half. Plague references rounded the whole picture and personal tragedies up nicely, so I imagine people back in the first half of the 20th century were genuinely scared back then. People today probably are not that scared anymore, despite the gruesome looks of Nosferatu, because of the way the medium of film, and horror films as well, have developed over the last 90 years. Still, all in all a pretty good movie and I recommend it.
This German film, directed by F.W. Murnau and based on the work of Bram
Stoker, Count Orlok looking for a new home but hides a secret: he's a
This is probably one of the most known European silent films ever and has cult classic status. Indeed, it is undeniable that silent films have, today, charm and elegance. Some of its scenes are famous and history will be easily recognized by those who know the story of Dracula invented by Stoker, since the plot does not change anything except the names of the characters. A classic that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The vampire (Nosferatu) depicted in this movie is a truly scary,
hideous, nightmarish spectacle to behold: hunched-over posture, pointy
ears, crooked nose, sharp fangs, scrawny fingers, spindly limbs, and
long fingernails. More vampires should be horrifying like Max Shreck's
interpretation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. I am absolutely sick and tired
of the trailers and advertisements for generic, pseudo-Gothic,
angsty-teenager renditions of vampires - which depict vampires as
attractive, romantic men or as cutesy schoolboys. I am glad, in
contrast, that movies like this exist. If you are like me and want a
vampire that is truly terrifying, please by all means choose
Also, "Nosferatu" is a truly good film. I have watched it twice! It has a good plot, and it also has good music.
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