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Having recently seen this as part of a university module on film from
Germany's Weimar era, I can safely say that "Nosferatu" is one of the
best films ever made, especially from an atmospheric and
cinematographic point of view. The film is suggested by Bram Stoker's
"Dracula" - I say "suggested by" as opposed to "based on", as whilst
the premise is the same, the names of the characters and the story's
general tone are changed to something more Germanic. Perhaps even more
so than the influence from Stoker, "Nosferatu" is equally influenced in
a number of aspects by German Romantics ranging from Caspar David
Friedrich to E.T.A. Hoffmann and the Brothers Grimm. Thus, the vampire
seems more of a folkloric figure from within one of the darker moments
in a fairy-tale from Grimm than Stoker's did, and the relocation of the
time period and setting is to Germany during the Romantic era (no
The film succeeds because it incorporates aspects of fantasy-horror and Expressionism, yet at the same time uses realistic settings (often "on location") extensively; in comparison with the likes of "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari", which were stylistic affairs confined to a studio. This creates a subtle spooky mood, which inhabits the viewer for a good while after the film is over, rather than provide quick short thrills that die as soon as the credits roll like with a number of horror films. This makes for an excellent film, which ought to be watched.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
That old silent film is of course a classic. It comes from the German
school of horror films in the 1920s. It is an adaptation of Bram
Stoker's Dracula, but it takes liberties with the original. It is
situated in Bremen and not in London. His girlfriend or wife is quite
rightly Mina. Rensfield is the boss of the real estate agency. The trip
to Dracula's castle is standard. Dracula's voyage to Bremen is also
very standard. The real change comes at the end when Mina sacrifices
herself by giving herself to Dracula to keep him active up to after the
cock crows. Then he dies and everyone is saved. Naive rewriting of the
ending into some palatable cathartic compensation of the horror of life
: salvation is possible and escape is a real eventuality. But it is
also a very Christian ending in a way, or isn't it Jewish after all ?
The woman sacrificing herself for the sake of the social group that is
menaced by Dracula. And this sacrifice is epiphanic since it brings
salvation. This fantastic and horror period in the German cinema seems
to be longing for a happy ending, just as if the reality of Germany
then was so bleak that happiness could only be a dream and a
consolation or a solace the cinema could propose to people. The film
though is admirable by the quality of the pictures and the shooting. A
black and white film on such a subject could easily become drab, which
it never does. The pictures are always innovative in a way or another
with a contrast or a composition that makes the poor technique of the
days quite able to translate complex situations. The acting of these
silent actors is also quite admirable in the body language they use
that is never overdone which would make it grotesque. It is just
expressive enough to mean what it is supposed to mean without any
negative second level reading.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris Dauphine & University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
This is by far the best telling of the vampire story. It's the creepiest and scariest of the lot. Even Bela Lugosi's interpretation as good as it is can't compare to what Max Schreck brings to his interpretation of the Dracula figure Count Orlac. Murau's tight and focused direction is without peer. Some trivia: In German "Schreck" mean fear, terror. The "edition" I saw was issued in 1991 by Film Preservation Associates and has the title "Noseferatu - Symphony of Horror", with the credit: Freely composed by Henrik Galeen. The Dolby digital score composed and performed by Silent Orchestra is highly effective and well conceived.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's incredible to view a film over eighty years old with no special
effects and very little in the way of makeup inspire the kind of dread
and foreboding as found in director F.W. Murnau's "Nosferatu". Max
Schreck defines the title character with his skeletal features and long
spider like fingers, a haunting figure that defies an earlier captioned
description as a rich man who's free with his money. The mood is set
early, his homeland of Transylvania is a land of phantoms where evil
spirits become powerful after dark.
Jonathon Harker's quest to bring Count Orlok/Nosferatu/Count Dracula back to Bremen is beset with nightmare, heralded by Harker's first meeting with the Count. There is nothing subtle about Schreck's portrayal when Harker cuts himself slicing bread, Nosferatu literally jumps at him to taste blood. When Harker examines his appearance in a mirror the following morning, the doom he is about to face appears as two trace like punctures on his neck.
The film uses a number of animal symbols, but unlike the more familiar "Dracula" film of 1933, bats and wolves are missing here; instead we have an early appearance of a hyena outside Nosferatu's castle. Rats and spiders are used repeatedly, and for added measure, a lab scene in Bremen features a study of a Venus fly trap catching a fly, highlighting the "vampire" of the vegetable kingdom.
The first time Harker manages a glimpse of Nosferatu in his earthen coffin aboard ship, the image offered is truly one of horror and fear, accentuated by the mere appearance of eyes and a partial face. It's repeated for added effect later on, when Harker opens a door to find a demon like, hideous visage in full form. How much is left to the imagination to see the shadow of Nosferatu climb the stairs while stalking Nina Harker? The implied terror is captured in one of the all time great images of silent film history.
There are very few movies that I would consider "must see", Nosferatu falls into that category from the perspective of it's historical importance to the horror genre and it's impact on vampire lore in film. More is conveyed via menacing shadows, stark imagery and the revelation of vampire history than in reels full of many of the computer generated horror fests of present day.
This is the single-most disturbingly atmospheric Vampyre film of the
lot. No matter how good effects get, no matter what our technologies,
no matter the brilliance of our actors, this movie will always be the
best Vampyre flick of all time.
Rumors have always run rampant among history buffs, and fans alike. Max Schreck was "supposed" to have been an actual Vampyre. But both dis-spellers of such rumors, and fans of it, have pointed out one seemingly show-stopping point; that you're not supposed to be able to photograph or view reflections of Vampyres. Even with that stumbling block, the rumors persist.
But what if the modern liberties taken recently by so many directors were already in place, hundreds of years ago? What if a Vampyre's inability to tolerate sunlight, fear of crosses, or weakness to garlic, WERE the myth? And what's left is this (rather large, I dare say) community of Beings of legend? And let's face it: a stake through the heart would kill ANYbody.
This is a haunting film, if only you believe.
It rates a 9.8/10 from...
the Fiend :.
Something that unfortunately seems to have been forgotten by many is
that between WWI and the Third Reich, Germany made some impressive
movies. The three that probably stand out the most are "The Cabinet of
Dr. Caligari", "Nosferatu" and "The Nibelungenlied".
The second one is still the epitome of a horror movie. Obviously, it was based on Bram Stoker's classic "Dracula", but put a surreal spin on it. Max Schreck, as the title character (whose name in the movie is Count Orlok), makes a scarier Dracula than Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Frank Langella or Gary Oldman. His shaved head and long fingernails emphasize his mystique. Probably the best scene is when Count Orlok is walking up a staircase; his shadow on the wall becomes a form of horror in and of itself.
All in all, "Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens" is naturally a must for film historians and horror fans alike. Werner Herzog's 1979 remake was even better; they further developed the title character. And "Shadow of the Vampire" was also quite interesting.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was the first silent feature film I ever watched. At the time it
was obviously a little strange as I was only used to "talkies" however
Nosferatu has haunted me ever since. I don't mean to say that I wake up
at night, sweating and riddled with terror however part of the movie
stayed with me since then.
Of course there are the technical aspects. Murnau had been a director for 3 years when Nosferatu was made, yet he commands the technical aspects like he'd been at it an entire lifetime. With him he has an entire toolbox full of visual devices: Deep focus (screw you Citizen Kane!), time-lapse, stop motion, shadow-plays, low angles, etc. And then there's the cutting compared to other movies made at the same time, the movie is actually cut quite fast. However it's not cut chronologically and some of the things make little sense seen only in the context of the story. For instance we are shown a random scene of a professor showing his students a flytrap when none of the characters features before or after. The narration is truly impeccable and entirely unique. It adds up better as a dream than as a story...
Now the story, that's a peculiar case It's an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula which wasn't all that known back then. So the production team simply got at it without acquiring the rights. They changed a few names and settings, omitted a few characters and then went on to work with the story which stayed largely the same (one of the major differences is the ending of course). As it stands it's really simple: Graf Orlock (aka. Nosferatu) orders a guy named Hutter to his castle to sell him a house in Wisborg (a fictional German city). Hutter goes there but is captured by Nosferatu who travels to Wisborg and takes at Hutter's wife (obviously this is omitting some major plot points). While the movie resonated well with critics and audiences at the time, there was one major problem - Bram Stoker's widow was yet alive and apparently she wasn't very amused so she dragged the production company, Prana-Film, to court. Nosferatu became their first and last film and it was ordered to be destroyed. However that effort ultimately proved to be pointless as the film existed in too many copies already. So the film remained, Bram Stoker's novel received renewed interest (ultimately leading to a stage adaptation and the Lugosi film in 1931), Murnau became a big name and Prana-Film vanished.
People like to talk about Nosferatu in relation to expressionism. Of course it makes sense given the cinematic movement at the time (German expressionism), Schreck's makeup, the dark theme, the connections to nature (e.g. the aforementioned flytrap) and Murnau's use of shadows. However personally I think it links much, much better to romanticism. For Nosferatu Murnau used mainly natural settings, shooting mostly on location (he even went as far as Slovakia for the exterior shots of Transylvania). He uses wide establishing shots, showing us nature which is either void of humans or renders them insignificantly small. The entire movie is in vein of a strangely melancholic mood that culminates whenever Murnau (a former art student) copies the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich (one of the leading painters in romanticism and a personal favorite) in still shots (Consider Friedrich's Moonrise at the Sea and Hutter's wife, Ellen, waiting for him by the sea, Friedrich's Woman at the Window and the symmetric shot of Ellen opening the window or Friedrich's The Abbey in the Oakwood and Nosferatu's destroyed castle at the end).
Although Nosferatu is (in my opinion) the most terrifying portrayal of Dracula, it's also possibly the most daring, complex and human. The movie stresses nature (as evident in the large establishing shots) and above all doing as one's nature bids one. The movie shows arrays of living creatures (wolfs, horses, rats, flytraps, flies, spiders, cats and even bacteria, amplified by a microscope). They all do as their nature bids them, the wolf stalks horses, the spider devours its prey and the flytrap eats flies
If we relate this to Nosferatu, what is he? The manifestation of evil or merely an outsider who doesn't fit in by nature? Given he's a vampire him sucking blood is only natural. He follows that urge that defines him - and he dies. He dies by the sunlight, he can't withstand. Is this a "happy end"? Is it a tragedy? Is it neither? Personally I found the death to be very sad: The sun shines through and Nosferatu clutches to his heart and slowly dissolves into nothingness.
It is debated whether or not Bram Stoker was gay. We're certain about Murnau. Given the disdain for homosexuals at the time, I think the ambivalence is very much intended.
If you look beyond the shadows you might see something beautiful - Nosferatu is one of the most visionary examples of artistic realization I have ever witnessed and maybe the best horror movie of all time 10/10
This is one of scariest movies ever. It is based on Dracula the best horror novel ever. So it is the story of how a vampire from Romania that moves to England to find new victims. Very scary. This is one of the best horror movies ever. It will give you goosebumps. This movie has a great story line. This movie also has great acting. This movie also has great special effects. See this movie. It is a great movie. This movie is a true horror classic. It is a master pieces in terror. If this movie does not scary you then no movie will. I need more line and I am running out of things to say. Great movie great movie great movie.
Nosferatu is a 1922 silent Gothic horror film directed by legendary
German filmmaker, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. F. W. Murnaua prominent
figure in the German expressionist movement of the 1920sis widely
regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of the silent era.
Nosferatu, also known as NosferatuA Symphony of Horror, stars Max
Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. Murnau's Nosferatu was supposed to
be an adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 epic vampire extravaganza,
Dracula, but after the studio failed to procure the rights of the book
from Stoker's widow, the names and other details were deliberately
adjusted so as to avoid the hassles of copyright infringement. However,
this deviation was not enough to deceive the court, which gave its
verdict in the favor of Stoker's widow. After the film studio (Prana
Film) declared its bankruptcy, the court instructed to destroy all the
existing prints of Nosferatu. If it wouldn't have been for the one
surviving copy of the film, which had already been distributed all
around the world, we would have surely been deprived of the privilege
of savoring this true gem of cinema.
What makes Murnau's Nosferatu remarkable, in comparison to the countless other renditions, is that apart from keeping the eerie feeling of Stoker's Dracula intact it also succeeds in doing away with the theatrical gimmicks (that can offer tear apart an entire narrative), thus relying heavily on the development of its characters as well as its plot. This enriches Murnau's characters with an inherent sense of realism that the characters in the book's other cinematic renditions are so ostentatiously devoid of. Max Schreck's Count Orlok, in exact contract to the character's future portrayals on the celluloid, is what he is supposed to be: a cursed creature depraved by centuries of hapless suffering and solitude, who obviously lacks the glamour of a celebrated vampire being made to bask in the glory of his own grandeur.
One vampire movie that comes very close to Murnau's Nosferatu in its expression of horro is E. Elias Merhige's metafiction horror film, Shadow of the Vampire (2000). The movie, coincidentally, shares a more intimate relation with Nosferatu, for it narrates a fictionalized account of the filming of Murnau's 1922 epic. The movie stars John Malkovich as F. W. Murnau and Willem Dafoe as Count Orlok. The beauty of Merhige's Shadow of the Vampire is that it serves two different purposes at the same time: It triumphantly presents a fictionalized account of the making of Nosferatu. And, it also serves to be a Gothic horror film of its own. Malkovich's Murnau comes across as a meticulous filmmaker who seems so obsessed about his art that he wouldn't think twice about sacrificing his cast and crew members in order to fulfill his artistic vision. Dafoe's Count Orlok is an actor so committed to his act that he wouldn't leave a single stone unturned in order to bring the Gothic vampire to life. While Dafoe's masterful performance resonates with Max Schreck's iconic portrayal, John Malkovich's F. W. Murnau has all the qualities of becoming the cinematic archetype of a mad artist obsessed with his art.
Over the last nine decades, Nosferatu has not only enjoyed a strong cult following, but has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Renowned film critic Roger Ebert writes in his review of Nosferatu, "To watch F.W. Murnau's 'Nosferatu'' is to see the vampire movie before it had really seen itself. Here is the story of Dracula before it was buried alive in clichés, jokes, TV skits, cartoons and more than 30 other films. The film is in awe of its material. It seems to really believe in vampires." Over the years, Stoker's Count Dracula has enjoyed an unprecedented following, one that is matched only by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's super-sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, with Stoker's Gothic super-villain making a major appearance in more than 200 films. Suffice it is to say that the universal popularity of Stoker's Dracula owes a colossal debt to Murnau's Nosferatu, which not only made Stoker's epic vampire saga a household phenomenon, but also immortalized Stoker's vampire as the supreme symbol of Gothic terror in the world of cinema. Even today, Murnau's Nosferatu serves as a great means to get acquainted with Stoker's timeless tale of terror. Nosferatu still continues to be unparalleled in its demonstration of unrestrained terror in the world of cinema. An essential watch!
(This review was first published at A Potpourri of Vestiges)
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