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The legendary vampire film, over three quarters of a century old and
still worth watching. Say that about yourself when seventy-seven you
are, as Yoda would put it. It's also hosted by David Carradine, he
provides a short opening piece which seems blue screened for some
For those of you who were raised by wolves and haven't seen this film before, the plot follows. Knock receives a letter from Orlok. The Count wishes to buy a home in Bremen, he quickly dispatches his assistant Hutter with the necessary contracts. Thomas arrives in Transylvannia to find the Count is a frightening visage, though he first chalks up the strange happenings as bad dreams. Too late he realizes that Orlok is a vampire and the monster wants Ellen (after seeing her picture in a locket).
The vampire's earth filled coffins are loaded on the ship Demeter; en route across the seas crew die one by one as he drains their life. Meanwhile, Thomas struggles to reach Ellen by land, arriving after the crewless Demeter docks. With Nosferatu's coming a plague falls upon the city, it is only when Ellen sacrifices herself that evil is banished.
This version is remastered and includes the most enjoyable soundtrack I've seen it put to yet. Type O Negative's metal/Gothic songs rarely seem out of place and then only for moments. The film itself is a masterpiece, with a tidy plot and excellent makeup for Nosferatu.
*** 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
F.W. Murnau indeed has a significant place in movie history. He was the
director who invented camera movement in his wonderful 1924 production
THE LAST LAUGH. He is also known for having directed one of the most
beautiful silent romances, THE SUNRISE (1927). Besides, it is maestro
F.W. Murnau who adapted Goethe's marvelous FAUST to screen in 1926.
Finally, it is him who, not having any serious reference to how a
horror film was being made, proved unbelievable brilliant uniqueness of
thrill through the still classic horror, constantly a prospect film for
all scary movies, NOSFERATU. We have a number of horrors nowadays...
yet, NOSFERATU is still enjoyed by viewers galore... is that not an
Of course, the period of time which has passed since the premiere of the film is huge and, as a result, there may be some people who will dislike the movie after all these years: no camera movement, silent performances which tend to constitute "overacting" with "overgesticulation" (from today's perspective), undeveloped cinematography. Nevertheless, I think that because of the movie's old age, it has a stronger sense of suspicion and mystery nowadays than it used to have decades ago. I still absolutely admire this film for its constant power to thrill and shock while the awareness that the movie is more than 80 years old additionally thrills me. Modern horrors are, generally, so unoriginal and similar in their conventions that there is still no movie that could be compared to Murnau's 1922 masterpiece. How come that a movie made in the early 1920s with limited filming techniques can thrill the 21 century viewers? This leads me to one conclusion: Murnau's film really served its purpose to the very core.
The number of scary moments are something the film can still boast. Who can forget Hutter's visit to Graf Orlok's castle? Who can skip the facial expression of the vampire from the coffin? Who can possibly omit the terrific atmosphere when Nosferatu is on ship? And the moments with mosquitoes... I personally loved many of these scenes, but particularly two sequences have remained in my memory for good: the one at the castle filmed at marvelous Orava in Slovakia and the final one when Nosferatu's shadow is seen walking upstairs.
The performances are exceptionally good, yet on the condition that they are interpreted from the silent era's point of view. This is the only factor that may disappoint some today's viewers. Yet, the facial expressions and gesticulations (these are the major factors that one may take into account when applied to silents) still do the job. Max Schreck is still horrifying as Count Orlok. Consider his face, for instance, at the scene when he says about the throat of Hutter's wife. Greta Schroeder is also memorable as Ellen, particularly at the moments of her trances. Alexander Granach in his portrayal of Knock also provides a viewer with a thrill of fear.
NOSFERATU is a very well made horror movie, a silent I would recommend to everyone who likes scary movies. I also consider the movie a must see for all movie fans. Highly recommended movie with unforgettable atmosphere that has become even more intense due to the fact the movie was made such a long time ago. I love it and although I have seen it a considerable number of times, I am going to see it once again.
Director: F.W. Murnau, Script: Henrik Galeen, Novel: Bram Stoker, Cast:
Max Schreck(Orlok), Gustav von Waggenheim(Johannes), Greta
This is the ultimate vampire movie. Easily superior to the Tod Browning, Bela Lugosi version done in 1931. This has long been a favorite early horror film among fans. Murnau had difficulty producing this film due to resistance from Bram Stoker's widow. To get around this, all the character names where changed.
This film is set in 1800's Germany. Johannes, a real estate man, has to leave his wife, Ellen, for a while to travel to Transylvania to sell a flat to Orlock. Orlock, of course, is the vampire and the place that he is to selling to Orlock is across the street from Johannes's place. When Orlock arrives in Bremen, their town, a plague is brought among the village. The journey that Johannes takes to get there is amazing. We are taken through beautiful country with the alps in the background. When he gets close to Orlok's, he comes to a bridge and his ride stop's there. The driver of the carriage will not go across the bridge to "the land of the phantoms". The bridge represents a change from normalcy to an eerie otherworld.
This movie even by todays standards has some rather creepy moments. Orlock has a rat-like face with big front teeth and big ears. He is easily the creepiest Dracula. There is a scene where it is nighttime and Ellen gets out of bed and goes to the window to find this shadow of a figure starring into her apartment from his window across the street--very creepy. Max Schreck had such a strange persona that it was rumoured that he was a real vampire. Who am I to dispute this! He sure was convincing. This film is a fine example of the German expressionistic films that where made between the two wars. If you have no horror films from the silent era and are interested in acquiring some, this is the best place to start. Murnau and Fritz Lang was among the two best German directors of this time.
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 :.
Life's Pictures Will Turn to Shadows
Vampires are one of the most popular horror myths out there that age centuries ago. We have no shortage of films for them. There are probably dozens or hundreds of Dracula/vampire movies ranging from the suave Dracula played by Bela Lugosi to the Vlad the Impaler type Dracula in Coppola's 1992 movie 'Bram Stoker's Dracula.' However, one image, one vampire movie has stood the test of time and appreciation better then any vampire movie ever made. Nosferatu, the first vampire, literally. F.W. Murnau wanted to make a great vampire movie. But he did it differently then most people would later do. He didn't make a sexy exotic man with a heavy accent, more so since the film is silent. But Murnau wished to create a vampire, which would disgust us look-wise. One vampire who is ugly, looks like a corpse, ugly rat faced monstrosity. He created Count Orlock, known as Nosferatu.
Of course the story is based from Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' and was almost forever destroyed by Stoker's widow for copyright reasons. But this still wins as the greatest vampire ever. The story merely is changed by names. A man named Thomas Hutter (Gustav v. Wangenheim) is a real estate agent who is hired by an odd man named Knock to sell property to Count Orlock, who lives in an ancestral castle in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania. He is warned all the way by townspeople that he is heading toward the land of the phantoms. In one scene we see him mention Orlock's name in a motel and everyone falls silent. Horses scare away, and a Hyena snarls outside. Murnau uses these images to show something is definitely wrong.
Hutter's carriage refuses to carry him further into the land near the castle, so Hutter is forced by foot, but soon after Orlock sends a carriage driven by a phantom. The carriage moves in fast motion showing that something is dark about it. In one shot of the journey in the Phantom chariot, Murnau uses a reverse negative showing trees appearing white with dark leaves and the black chariot. A very eerie look of the scene. Hutter meets the Count, and at dinner Hutter cuts himself, where as Orlock is fascinated by the sight of his blood, 'Your precious blood!' he exclaims. Hutter feels sort of uneasy, especially with his occasional reading of 'Book of Vampires.' After dealing real estate with Orlock he sees of locket of Hutter's wife. 'Is this your wife? What a lovely throat!' he says. That night, Hutter catches Orlock in his Nosferatu form, and is attacked, but after Ellen, his wife back in England feels danger, she calls out to him, and Nosferatu stops his attack.
Now that the farce is totally up for everyone (even if it was predictable) I will refer to him as Nosferatu now. He leaves his castle to move into the home he bought across from Hutter's house. They both leave, Nosferatu by ocean raft and boat. A plague falls upon the ship, and I don't need to explain what happens with the rest of the crew. In one part of the ship scene, we see a coffin slam open as Nosferatu rise up like a clock hand from laying to standing position, an effect good for that day and age. Now begins the trial of death and plague. Unexplained deaths come with his arrival. Ellen and Hutter fear, especially after Ellen reads The Book of Vampires. Ellen decides to sacrifice herself for the town. After she sees Nosferatu staring at their home through the window across the street, she asks Hutter to get the professor, so he cannot stop what she inevitability will do. Nosferatu sneaks into her horse, and corners her, using mystique powers to render her helpless before sucking her blood.
What Ellen read was that a woman pure of heart must keep a vampire up till the break of dawn to kill him. This happens, in one of the most memorable scenes ever in horror. As the cock crows, we see a close-up of Nosferatu as he lifts his head from her neck eyes glaring at the camera, looks toward the window, tries to walks away but is destroyed by the sun using a clever effect for it's time period of film-making. Hutter finds his wife; she is alive for a moment, but dies. She used herself for the greater good. She saved many more lives.
Max Schreck plays Count Orlock, who has the best acting in the movie, with his sinister expressions, and slow, stalking movement that scares us into a feeling of never escaping terror. In today's aspects, this film is not scary, but it is creepy in the sense of the looks of Schreck with his pale face, long nails, bat ears, and two rat-like fangs. Nosferatu's blood-sucking carnage of a woman in the film gave it a slight sexual tone to some audiences. In one shot toward the end we see only the shadow of Nosferatu go up the stairs making it more eerie, especially seeing those long nails in shadow grow longer as his hand goes for the door. Max Schreck is also never seen blinking on screen which is odd to me but I wouldn't know why. However this movie is not perfect, in fact the acting by Gustav v. Wangenheim is horrid. Not good at all. He is a walking cliché with his over dramatic gasps and his 'Good morning sun' type attitude pre-Nosfertu attack.
Murnau directed this brilliantly. His use of editing is great, especially when Nosferatu attacks Hutter with cuts to Ellen's waking. Use of symbolism, fast forwards, and reverse negatives give this film the quality it has. This movie is the best vampire movie ever. A classic, it has withstood the test of time, and is a travel into the evil of life. No sound is needed to creep out a viewer although a classical score helps the mood. Even though a rip-off of Stoker's novel, in the end it inspired most of the Dracula films to come out. A very dated but must see film. Two thumbs up, hell I'll throw both my arms up.
Rating: 9/10 Label: Cinematic Masterpiece Favorites Rank: #21
Subtitled "A Symphony of Horror", "Nosferatu" is the first, and on of the
best, of many movies inspired by Bram Stoker's "Dracula". Directed by one
of the cinema's true poets, who helped create the language of the horror
movie, it is a dreamlike film where much is left unexplained. The geography
is deliberately vague, and several characters, such as the Van Helsing
figure, Professor Bulwer, have little connection with the main action. From
the start there is a sense of unease and menace, but everything is done by
suggestion without any explicit violence. Blood is constantly mentioned but
never seen. Plague overtakes a city but we are left to imagine the state of
its victims. When the townspeople chase Knock over the countryside they
appear to be tearing him apart, but the object of their frenzy turns out to
be a scarecrow.
The film's climax has a gentle sensuality. Instead of a phallic stake being driven through the vampire's heart, a self-sacrificing heroine holds him in her bed to ensure his death. Sex and death, blood and contamination, are the film's themes. Max Shreck's Orlok is a truly grotesque iconic figure, both frightening and moving, with his bat ears, his aquiline nose, hunched shoulders, hairless dome, flaring eyebrows, black-ringed eyes, white skin, and clawlike hands.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nosferatu (1922) by F.W. Murnau--F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu may be the most famous example of German Expressionist film-making in the 1920s, and yet it is probably the least representative of the overall movement. The first tale of Dracula to hit the big screen, Nosferatu tells the tale of the vampire, Count Orlok, who brings terror to a village in Germany in the 1830s. The film is slowly paced in keeping with the Expressionist movement's emphasis on slow pacing to highlight nuance in the acting and detail in the mise-en-scene, but also in this case to orient the viewer to the background folklore of vampires, a mythology not in the forefront of the public consciousness in 1922. Compared to the highly distorted exaggerated sets of Expressionism's most representative film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu was mainly shot on location in order to emphasize the idea of the unnatural coming out of the natural, a very different notion from that of the carefully crafted, internal, emotionally subjective reality created in the mise-en-scene of most Expressionist films like Caligari. The acting of Max Schreck as Orlok is highly expressionistic, however, with his extremely distorted body movements. In fact, his acting was so unearthly for its time that many wondered if Max Schreck himself might not be a vampire as chronicled in the film Shadow of the Vampire (2000). The cinematography highlights a sense of claustrophobia through its alternating wide-shots and close-ups with scenes edited together using iris transitions. These edits complement the chamber-drama atmosphere of the tale, as do the many arches in the film, a dramatic motif to define a limited, claustrophobic space. Interestingly, whereas Caligari was a commentary on a hypnotic, but misguided power leading the passive masses to their doom in Germany in World War I, Nosferatu is a commentary on the death of the Great War. So profoundly is this film about death, that every character in some way orients himself or herself to it and establishes a relationship with death. Ideas of the supernatural and death pervade the editing together of disparate scenes, a variation of parallel editing in which two or more actions are perceived by the viewer to be taking place at the same time but there is some sort of supernatural connection between these simultaneous occurrences, such as when Hutter's wife perceives his danger at Orlok's castle when the vampire prepares to drink his blood. Ultimately, while the originator of the vampire film, and a classic of horror and silent cinema, the film's pacing is too slow for so minimal a story. As with many German expressionist films I fear that the emphasis on distorted mise-en-scene and acting betrays what is truly unique to the cinematic medium, editing. Paintings can have emotionally-subjective, distorted imagery as well as in the Expressionist paintings of Munch and Kandinsky, and many German plays in the teens displayed the overwrought performances of films like Nosferatu and Caligari, but this to me is a betrayal of what should be truly emphasized in cinema, editing. Editing is what truly differentiates the cinema from all other art forms, and is why I feel that German Expressionism with films like Nosferatu runs contrary to the soul of film-making. B+
this film in my opinion is the 2nd best horror film of all time. developed during the German expressionism movement (which was an arts movement that was less concerned with imitating reality and more concerned with using set design to reflect emotion and psychology) Nosferatu utilizes set design and a great score to the fullest. the sets themselves leave a grimy and sinister impression on the viewer. in particular count orlok's castle.. if that place doesn't give you the creeps i don't know what will. the castle is so dark, cold and old looking it gives off the vibe that nothing of human descent could possibly live there. don't even get me started on Max Schrek.. that guy is the world champion of scary looking men. i can honestly say he has the creepiest performance in a horror film that i've ever seen. this plus amazing direction, some other memorable performances from the cast, brilliant direction and the most in depth telling of Bram Stoker's classic tale of vampirism, makes this movie a true masterpiece of horror cinema. 10/10 (the only film to ever come close to the masterpiece that is.. Alfred Hitchcock's psycho)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, is a classic German Expressionist
horror film, directed by F. W. Murnau.It features Max Schreck as the
vampire Count Orlok together with Gustav von Wangenheim,Greta Schröder,
Alexander Granach,Ruth Landshoff and Wolfgang Heinz. It was an
unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with names and other
details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the
novel as for instance, "vampire" became "Nosferatu" and "Count Dracula"
became "Count Orlok".
The film begins in the Carpathian mountains, where real estate agent Hutter has arrived to close a sale with the reclusive Herr Orlok. Despite the feverish warnings of the local peasants, Hutter insists upon completing his journey to Orlok's sinister castle. While enjoying his host's hospitality, Hutter accidentally cuts his finger-whereupon Orlok tips his hand by staring intently at the bloody digit, licking his lips. Hutter catches on that Orlok is no ordinary mortal when he witnesses the vampire nobleman loading himself into a coffin in preparation for his journey to Bremen. By the time the ship bearing Orlok arrives at its destination, the captain and crew have all been killed-and partially devoured. There follows a wave of mysterious deaths in Bremen, which the local authorities attribute to a plague of some sort. But Ellen, Hutter's wife, knows better. Armed with the knowledge that a vampire will perish upon exposure to the rays of the sun, Ellen offers herself to Orlok, deliberately keeping him "entertained" until sunrise. At the cost of her own life, Ellen ends Orlok's reign of terror once and for all.
One of the silent era's most influential masterpieces, Nosferatu's eerie, Gothic feel and a chilling performance from Max Shrek as the vampire set the template for the horror films that followed for many years to come.Murnau proved his directorial talent in this picture he's a master artisan demonstrating not only a knowledge of the subtler side of directing but in photography.It doesn't scare us anymore for present viewers but it haunts us. It shows not that vampires can jump out of shadows, but that evil can grow there, nourished on death.Finally,it is masterpiece of the German silent cinema and easily the most effective version of Dracula on record.
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