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The film is fine but it's dated and silent even without music to help move the film along. The actors and actresses did a fine job without a script. The film isn't as frightening today as it might have been in it's time period in 1922. The story unfolds slowly and carefully about the legend of vampires in Transylvania. There is a twist at the end of the story. The Nosferatu is the vampire whose legend unfolds in this film. This film is dark in black and white and appropriately too. The length is only about an hour and that's fine. It's interesting to see how audiences would have reacted to it's initial release. The story of a man who sells a house in Bremen, Germany in Pre-World War II time to the mysterious Count is chilling at times. It's sometimes better to see without speaking in the silent film genre. It's a classic thriller in it's time period.
I am faced with one of my greatest challenges when reviewing a classic
and it doesn't get any easier; trying to say something new about a film
most everyone has seen and everyone has already formed an incorruptible
opinion on. Oh, what to say. Nosferatu is a perfect horror film in
every sense. It transports us back to a simpler time in cinema, when
jump scares weren't the main concern, but atmosphere and tonal
consistency. Where performances still mattered, and weren't reduced to
archetypal characters and stereotypes.
Nosferatu was the only production from the company Prana Films in 1921, and despite not having the rights to Bram Stroker's novel, Dracula, ambitious writer Henrik Galeen was given the assignment and pursued the challenge in adapting his story to film. With legendary director F.W. Murnau behind the camera, as well, the project was shaping out to be a fascinating and unique look on the vampire himself. It was shaping out to be perfect, until Stoker's widow, Florence Stoker, denied the rights to her deceased husband's work for unknown reasons. With a few minor changes, Murnau pushed on and made the film, but when Stoker sued, initially, the punishment was to have every copy of the film destroyed. While that clearly wasn't enforced to the fullest degree, it is unknown if the version available today is the original cut. Some reports have the film running at a runtime ten to fifteen minutes longer than the cut commercially available today, however, no official evidence has proved that the cut we possess today is censored or not.
There's almost no reason to reiterate the story of the film seeing as it's pretty much the story of Dracula, which almost everybody knows. The American cut of the film even refers to Count Orlok as "Count Dracula," so the secrecy is corrupt. Let's focus on the film itself. First off, one can not deny that this is one of the finest horror films ever made. The technicalities behind the film are primitive, raw, and undeniably authentic. It was shot with only one camera, incorporates some very unstable editing, utilizes grainy film stock, and as a whole, is crafted extremely simplistically. This is not criticism, but observationist recollections of the picture as a whole. I'd personally much rather have all of those things than very glossy, pitch-perfect horror production. The primitive nature of the film is a breath of fresh air in a world where everything has to be so painstakingly perfect all the time.
Nosferatu, himself, is played by Max Schreck, in arguably one of the greatest roles ever in a horror film. Schreck's character is tall, lanky, with large, bulging, unblinking eyes, equipped with a large, boxy nose, an unmoved expression always on his face, and stiff and unmovable torso. His first appearance on screen is jolting and brings a shiver to even the most experienced horror moviegoer. Schreck immerses himself into this role, making his vampire character not a character aware of implausibility but one, by the end, you believe could actually be real.
I mentioned the use of film noir, as well. This is a recurring aspect for the film itself, mainly because it is so frequently and professionally used. The iconic "stair scene" where you see Nosferatu eerily walk up the stairs in shadow is a work of Gothic genius, and has become a staple of film noir in the horror genre. Not to mention, so has the delightfully creepy scene of Nosferatu ominously rising from his coffin and staring directly at the viewer. It is film technique like that that is truly invaluable.
Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Alexander Granach, Ruth Landshoff, and Wolfgang Heinz. Directed by: F.W. Murnau.
This is one of the most famous films of all time, the oldest surviving
vampire film in the world, his director's most famous work, one of
greatest and best known films of German Expressionism, and without
question, one of the best horror films ever made and which set the
standards for all the vampire films that have been made ever since. I
know that many people are immediately put off by the fact that it is a
silent film, but I would ask them to put that prejudice aside for
ninety-three minutes, and give it a try. They eventually may not like
it still, but still they got nothing to lose.
In order to watch "Nosferatu" with a keen eye and to appreciate it in full as it deserves, some previous research is essential.
Yes, it is an adaptation of the novel "Dracula", and as to why the names both geographical as well as the characters' are German in some editions, the answer is that Murnau and his producer didn't acquire the copyrights of the novel for purely financial reasons, and they thought they could make a pirate adaptation and get away with it. They did the first thing, but didn't achieve the second, for Bram Stoker's widow sued for plagiarism when she heard of the existence of "Nosferatu", and the court ordered all the existing copies to be destroyed without question. Fortunately a few survived, and by the Thirties, after the death of Mrs. Stoker, the ban ceased to be and the film could be publicly screened again. But the copies shown to the public had been chopped down to sixty-five minutes, leaving a film filled with massive plot holes and discontinuity that weighted it down terribly and caused the negative feelings that many spectators still feel about it. I myself experienced that when I acquired a VHS copy recorded from some TV channel, with English subtitles translated into Spanish by a voice-over, in plain black and white with lots of dirt spots in the negative and a murderous visual quality. Still, that was the only way to watch it before the arrival of DVD technology. Then ten years ago I attended a screening at the Curzon Soho cinema on the 80th anniversary of the film, and there I saw the restored "Nosferatu" for the first time, noticing the immense difference that the original 93 minutes make to the film. Not only everything makes now much more sense, but we can see that, except for minor changes in the action, the film is one of the most faithful adaptations of Stoker's novel. To me personally it also is, with Terence Fisher's "Dracula" of 1958, the best adaptation ever made to this day.
Still, viewers ought to be aware that there are several different editions on sale on DVD, with prices varying between five pounds and twenty, and not all of them are the restored version. Obviously, the cheaper ones are just copies of the old VHS, so here we go back to the same problem we used to have in the past. The reason for this is that "Nosferatu" nowadays belongs to the public domain, which means anyone can edit a copy and put it for sale without infringing any original copyrights. This is what a few video companies just have done, recycling the old material they already had, regardless to quality and to the fact that they are selling only two-thirds of the film. Other editions bring the full-length cut, but still they present other deficiencies such as plain black and white cinematography -the original negative by Murnau was tinted- and the wrong soundtrack. I watched one of those versions once, which had an electronic score with vocal sounds in the background that would be more typical of modern slasher films and sounded absolutely terrible in "Nosferatu". To my knowledge, the only version to watch for someone who is looking for the real thing and wants to own a piece of film history, is the one available in the "Masters of Cinema" series, restored by the F.W.Murnau-Stiftung foundation and the film scholar Luciano Berriatua. It comes with the original tinted print, the original 1922 score and the original inter-titles design, as well as a long documentary on Murnau and a book that analyses the film thoroughly. It is not cheap, certainly, but it is the definitive "Nosferatu" DVD if you love the film like I do. For first-time viewers who want to have a go at it, I would suggest to watch it in the Internet first. But again, avoid any version under 90 minutes if you want to see the real film.
Nosferatu a German expressionist horror film. It is one of the first silent films I ever viewed. I found it to be emotional,creepy, disturbing, artful, and beautiful. By far my favorite vampire film. Although this is a silent film the eerie music,strong sexual subtext, and the use of fast-motion and negative photography makes the film very visually pleasing and captivating. Fritz Arno Wagner brings terror out of silhouettes. It's definitely more haunting than scary. Of course thew best seen is Orlok is standing in the doorway of Hutter's bedroom. Overall Nosferatu is a iconic, emotional and visual treat. My biggest gripe is it is very difficult to find a decent copy of the film.
It is ironic that one of the most famous scary movies was what we would
now call a "knock off". In the silent era, the best horror films came
from Germany. In 1920, while John Barrymore was playing Jekyll & Hyde,
FW Murnau directed a German version of the story called The Janus Head.
This film is now lost. The title and the names of the characters had
been changed to avoid paying money to the estate of Robert Louis
Stevenson. Next Murnau did the same thing with another horror novel:
Bram Stoker's Dracula. As hard as it is to believe now, Dracula was
only a moderate success when it debuted in 1897, which is why it was
not adapted to stage or screen until 25 years later.
The film, Nosferatu ("Undead") would be the first from new studio Prana. The screen-writer was Henrik Galeen, who had written The Golem (1920). The setting was changed from England in the 1890s to Germany in the 1830s, specifically Wisborg, a town on the North Sea. Knock is a real estate agent who sends young Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) to a Count in Transylvania who wants to buy an old mansion in Wisborg. Hutter arrives at the Count's creepy castle and meets him, Orlock (Max Schreck).
Whereas Lugosi's Dracula was bat-like, Orlock is rat-like with a bald head, huge snout, and sharp incisors. His clawed hands also make him look like an ancestor of Freddy Krueger. Vampires were originally thought of as grotesque creatures like this (Stoker's novel described Dracula as ugly; it was Lugosi who made him suave and seductive). The actor's name, Schreck, literally means terror in German, and this led to the rumor that it was a fake name. The film Shadow of the Vampire went a step further by suggesting that Max Schreck was an actual vampire. But it was his real name, and he allegedly appears out of make up as Knock's clerk. His wife Fanny Schreck plays a nurse.
Gradually Hutter realizes that his host is a vampire. Once their business is done, Orlock leaves him trapped in the castle. Hutter escapes and hopes to reach Wisborg first. The Count travels by sea, since his earth-filled coffins are too heavy for horses to pull. The second part of the film deals with Orlock on the ship, and the third deals with his arrival in Wisborg. The townspeople assume that his victims have been bitten by plague-carrying rats and do not know that a vampire is among them. The only ones who do are Hutter and his wife Ellen (Greta Schroeder of The Golem). Somehow they must stop Orlock's reign of terror.
Much of Nosferatu was filmed on location. The town scenes were at real towns, and the castle scenes were at 600-year-old Orava Castle in what is now Slovakia. The night scenes were filmed in daylight, but with a blue tint. This film began the idea that sunlight destroys vampires. Previously they were nocturnal but could function in daylight if they had to, as Dracula does in Stoker's book. Already unstable, Knock falls under Orlock's spell after reading his letter and becomes the Renfield character, but the Van Helsing character Professor Bulwer does not get to do much. Some iconic shots are when Orlock rises from his coffin straight up without bending, and his shadow moves up the staircase (even though in most folklore vampires have no shadows).
Nosferatu was a sensation, but Stoker's widow Florence knew that her husband's book had been plagiarized and she sued Prana. The studio went bankrupt and the film was banned in Europe, but not in America, where it was released in 1929 and slightly altered. For example, the names of the characters were changed to their counterparts in the novel (Orlock became Dracula, Hutter became Harker, etc) and the town was renamed Bremen. The film increased interest in the book, which was made into a stage play with Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi, who went on to play Dracula in the 1931 talkie. So while Nosferatu was a knock off of Dracula, the Count actually owes much of his fame to this film.
Amazing horror film - iconic images from this film have echoed down the
years. The image of Orlok's shadow cast on a wall as he climbed the
stairs, Orlok rising out of his coffin, and the shot of Orlok carrying
his coffin walking through Bremen are iconic images which many
moviewatchers have seen even if they don't know where they come from.
The movie was called Nosferatu because Bram Stoker's widow wouldn't grant permission for the use of her deceased husband's book and so director F.W. Murnau changed Dracula's name to Orlock (Max Schreck), he made Van Helsing into Professor and set the film in Bremen rather than London. That said, the outlines of the movie are similar apart from those simple name changes.
This is a scary movie - from the creepiness of Orlock to the eeriness of real-estate agent Knock (Alexander Granach) to the impressive cross-cutting of Hutter's (Gustav von Wangenheim) suffering at the hands of Orlok to his wife Ellen (Greta Schroeder) empathizing and sensing his suffering. It is full of moments which will creep you out. Some of the acting is a bit hammy, but the essential story as told by Murnau and writer Henry Galeen is creepy and Murnau paces the film deftly. Truly a classic which will stay with you forever.
As a very young person relative to this film, I first heard of
Nosferatu through Spongebob Squarepants in their funny horror episode.
That was years ago. Finally I got around to seeing this classic horror.
What can I say about it? It was OK.
As a loose adaptation of Dracula, the film's plot cuts out a lot of the story and adds a little. No Van Helsing or Lucy-alikes, shortened sequences of... everything, but with the additions of Knock, an ending I liked, and a great boat scene.
The music in the version I saw was great, one of the best parts. I believe it was composed by James Bernard, and it was excellent. As said before, the other things I enjoyed were the boat scene, left ambiguous in the 'Dracula' I read, but shown here in the film, with the scariest results in the film. Also, the ending, was a heroic sacrifice, even though it didn't make much sense. Also, Max Schreck's menacing Nosferatu is just iconic.
I didn't find the film the most engaging though, and some unnecessary things were put in. The film is short and cuts out a lot, but leaves in irrelevant things. At 90 years old, the films has aged worse than even other silent films.
It's a classic horror fans should see, or if it's on you should see it just for kicks. Just don't expect to get your socks knocked off like it's 1922. 7.3/10
Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Alexander Granach, Georg H. Schnell, Ruth Landshoff, John Gottowt, Gustav Botz, Max Nemetz, Wolfgang Heinzusa, Heinrich Witte, Guido Herzfeld, Karl Etlinger, Hardy von Francois and Fanny Schreck.
F. W. Murnau.
So a few weeks back i spotted this movie and a few others available on Youtube. i got really excited because the fact that i don't get to see very old movies like these, this was such a lovely thing to watch a movie that basically started it all, the Vampire themed movies. you will see shadows and hear echoes of this movie in many of the modern day movies like these. while i only heard about it and knew nothing about whatsoever i saw it. was really stunned at how great this movie was. it indeed was if i remember correctly, my first ever experience of a Black White Silent movie and since it released in 1922, the most oldest one ever. loved watching this movie very much.
To be honest i have not much to say about this movie but still i will try. so i really respect silent movies and consider them truly great experience. they don't shove things down your throats or just keep on throwing things at you but they let you experience and feel the movie, feel and think about everything that goes on in the movie, it is just a whole lot different experience. something that stays with you for a while while those images still lingers in your mind as you really focus into the imagery throughout the movie. this is not a actual adaptation of the novel but that doesn't bother me and nor should anyone else. it is what it is and i love Murau's take on Nosferatu or Vampire Count Dracula (Orlok). this was a great movie where you see from the start the lovely couple, with a beautiful wife and they are in love which is then challenged by Orlok as he claims her later on. i thought it was technically the best Black and White movie i saw of the era lately. it is just well done in every aspect even being so old, i am stunned by how well the details and technical aspects have been taken care of. it moves at a very fine pace or in some places fast. i don't think i found any noticeable flaws in the movie.
Everything is good about this movie, Max Schreck looks creepy and quite convincing as the Count Orlok and he does scares and creeps you out. a really scary and almost irresistible portrayal. Gustav Von Wangenheim really performed well too while Greta Schroder looked nice but quite confusing at times. Directed very well and screenplay was good. Art direction and cinematography were excellent. i loved that hilarious sequence that looks so funny when Orlok arrives in the town running with his coffin in his hand. and in other scene looked creepy but rather heroic standing on that ship with everyone dead and looking forward to the fact that he was going to get Hutter's wife who he finds beautiful. many sequences were actually scary and quite creepy. i loved the whole atmosphere of this movie. it is rather enjoyable and very lovable as it ends you feel like you just watched a high budget action Sci Fi movie. creepy and scary sequences with one of the very best or actually the best portrayal of a Vampire or Dracula i have seen. this is a must watch.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I would give "Nosferatu" a 7. Why? Because out of all the films that
predate it, Nosferatu comes of age. But we must respect the fact it
pertains to a medieval tradition and some flaws can be found outside
when you actually see Max Shreck outside in the sun light. More a
nitpick then anything on Murneau's masterwork. What made me like it so
much? Well out of all the macabre films that have launched in the
genre, this one had more layers and had well executed performances; it
was actually shot in the Carpathian mountains, it infused the Monster
(Frankenstein's Monster)'s pathos with the Vampire's lust for blood and
the film chronicles epidemic more in earnestly then most films (only
thwarted by "Vampyr" and Coppola's "Dracula" in terms of serious
Nosferatu uses atmosphere to capture the viewer's reverie for nightmarish figures. Knock is a character who has been driven from sanity to madness as the disseminating epidemic takes its toll. It took Bram Stoker's novel and Murneau explicated how he could translate it with subtlety. The answer was substitute the name (now well seeded in folklore) and create jagged and prismatic architecture to change the story ultimately. It's fair to say the film doesn't really have an all encompassing narrative, though it does encompass narrative POVs. There's a famous key scene when Orlock's shadow engulfs Hutter and it's seen from a Woman dying in her bed. The scene is so lurid and so resonant that it doesn't matter about movies like "Saw", "Halloween" (brilliant notwithstanding) and "Friday the 13th" when the director gives your imagination enough fulcrum.
It was bodacious no doubt even with the notable flaws that we can dismiss. Undoubtedly it's probably the most sterling horror movie ever made. I.e. when Hutter comes to the mountains he's completely lost. His time being lost gives us enough to soak up the gorgeously Stygian and cavernous world, much like how Allan Grey soaks it up 10 years later in Vampyr. It's only abruptly that Orlock interjects and stipulates that Hutter must come here. Not exactly a congenial acquaintance as the ravishing Bela Lugosi, but a shunned ogre-esque creature who besotted company. Then another scene, which looks almost like stop-frame animation, where Orlock moves rigidly to the coffin to make it up and then wields it as if like Jesus carrying the cross. I'm not saying this was intentional symbolism, but the impression is so sacrosanct that it starts to feel cogent.
Like with most silents of greatness, some may not respond to it concordantly. We must remember though that for its time, it had brilliantly archaic element, like "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari", which remain artistic. Although I must admit I have seen many other amazing silents.
This is where the long legacy of Dracula films begins. F.W. Murnau's
classic, Nosferatu, is said to be one of the most terrifying
adaptations of Bram Stoker's novel ever made. It is a silent film
German from 1922, not released in the states until 1929 because it was
rumoured to be some sort of German propaganda, not something the United
States wanted floating around the country in the midst of World War I.
Of course, the film is nothing of the sort. It tells the story of
Hutter, a real estate agent who visits the Campire Count Orlok's castle
in Transylvania after Orlok expresses interest in taking up residence
near Hutter. Hutter quickly learns that the Count has a dark secret,
and so unfolds a tale of terror as Count Orlok wreaks havoc on Hutter's
unsuspecting home town.
By 1922's standards this film is absolutely horrific and incredibly dark. By the standards of the 21st century it's hard to still see this film as frightening, but it is indeed still dark. It tells a bleak tale, one of sorrow and misery, without anything to lighten the mood. It begins cheerily enough. Hutter and his wife live a peaceful existence in their town. They are deeply in love and they have a substantial income to make their lives as easygoing as possible. But things take a turn for the worst as soon as Hutter agrees to visit the dangerous Count Orlok. The film only grows colder and darker from there, never shedding a hopeful light on the harrowing situation the characters of this film find themselves in. Even towards the end when the film seems like it might end happily, it takes a dark twist that ends it on a very somber and unfortunate note. This is truly astounding for a film made so long ago.
I said that this film isn't very scary by our standards anymore, but that doesn't mean that the image of Count Orlok isn't disturbingly memorable. The images of Orlok as the full fledge vampire, Nosferatu, are deeply unsettling and he is a figure that you cannot easily shake from your mind. The make up is excellent and the hauntingly slow paced way Max Schreck portrays the Count is perfect. He is an incredibly ominous figure, standing up at least six feet tall, dressed in a powerful black robe that contradicts his eerily pale skin. Schreck also wears giant prosthetic hands which are half human half beast, in a way. They are massive hands with claw like structures on the fingers, and when Schreck stretches these hands out it makes Nosferatu that much more feared and all the more intimidating. Nosferatu's image is something that should be revered forever in the world of vampires.
And what a vast world that is. Vampires have been falling in and out of popular culture ever since this film. We now have countless vampire movies, plenty of vampire book series, and even a plethora of vampire television shows. And what's amazing to think is that this 80 minute German film from 1922 is what started this entire legacy, other than the book it is based on of course. Any visual rendition of the Dracula story and any film or television show centered around vampires owes so much to Nosferatu, much more than they are likely aware of. Vampires are practically their own genre these days, and its all thanks to this film. Nosferatu spawned a legacy that, just like the film's title character, will likely never die.
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