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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Count Dracula (Max Schreck) goes to Bremen and is destroyed by
sunlight. This was the first and last Prana Film; the company declared
bankruptcy after Bram Stoker's estate, acting for his widow, Florence
Stoker, sued for copyright infringement and won.
Nosferatu is an unauthorised treatment of the Bram Stoker novel, with a terrifying Count and several genuinely chilling moments. Schreck is extraordinary, the film dutifully terrifies - and director F.W. Murnau ended up in the embrace of Hollywood. Werner Herzog's 1979 homage to Nosferatu, Nosferatu the Vampyre starred Klaus Kinski as Count Dracula, not Orlok.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
FW Murnau's Nosferatu is a very different adaptation of the Dracula
story than Browning's later and more popular version. While Bela Lugosi
is a suave, dignified and seductive vampire, Max Schreck is much more
repulsive and foul feeling in his portrayal of the undead creature. And
it is interesting to see the differences in vision and style that the
two directors took for essentially the same story.
Nosferatu is an impressive film with an air of dread and this sense of repulsion that clings to it for the duration of the movie. The use of light and shadow and interesting direction and camera work contribute to the atmosphere here. The scene where the shadow of the vampire is seen slowly progressing up the stairs with exaggerated and distorted form leaves a lasting impression on the viewer, as do various other manifestations of the vampire-for instance, when he is seen rising from a supine position without any part of his body bending.
While overall I think I prefer Browning's Dracula, Nosferatu is an impressive film that is certainly worth seeing.
This one's the great-Grandaddy of vampire movies and still packs quite
a wallop, even though its impact is severely diminished on a second
viewing when the story starts to drag which is never a good thing for
an 80-minute film.
Those iconic images of Max Schreck, silhouetted against the rigging of the ship whose crew he has systematically devoured, rising stiff-backed from his coffin, climbing the stairs to his victim's room, his talon-like nails and misshapen head, his ascent charted by the movement of his shadow on the wall, are so embedded in the psyche of any true movie fan that seeing them in their true context is a little like seeing a long-cherished hero in the flesh. Trouble is, by the second or third viewing, images of Paul Whitehouse's 'monster, monster' take-off inevitably start taking over. The film is quite faithful to Bram Stoker's novel, but there is only fundamental attention paid to character development, and the guy who plays Jonathon Harker (the subtitles of the version I watched referred to the characters by the names given to them by Stoker) is truly irritating. His acting style of exaggerated gestures was out-dated even in 1922. Max Shreck, however, barely on screen for more than 10- minutes, elevates the film to another dimension.
Watch it once and remember it for its initial impact, otherwise you're likely to be disappointed if you return for a second bite.
I remember seeing this unauthorized 1922 adaptation of Bram Stoker's
novel, "Dracula" (or at least some of it) years ago, but at that point,
I was only around nine years old, and it wouldn't have meant much to me
at all. However, over a decade later, I watched the entire film, and
even though it was my first time ever sitting down on my own to watch a
silent movie, meaning that I wasn't exactly used to watching films from
this era, I was still VERY impressed with this particular one!
Jonathon Harker is a resident in the town of Bremen in 1838, where he lives with his wife, Nina. For a living, he works as a real estate agent. One day, Harker is sent by his strange employer, R.M. Renfield, on a long journey to the Carpathian Mountains, where he is to complete a sale with the mysterious Count Orlok, who has sent a letter showing interest in purchasing a house in Bremen. On Harker's way to Count Orlok's castle, he comes to a nearby inn. Here, he looks in a book called "The Book of the Vampires", but does not believe any of the frightening things it says. However, after Harker reaches his destination, he eventually learns the horrifying truth about Count Orlok, and much trouble lies ahead for Harker, his wife, and the whole town of Bremen!
It has now been more than eight decades since the release of "Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens" (a.k.a. "Nosferatu"). Some movies from this long ago haven't aged very well as time has gone by, but "Nosferatu" is clearly one that has! For today's viewers, it can still be very scary (as horror movies are supposed to be) and highly entertaining for fans of the horror genre! So, if you're into horror flicks, then unless you simply dislike films from the silent era in general, I see no reason why you shouldn't watch this groundbreaking 1922 classic!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is by far my favorite silent film. It was just plain creepy without sound! That's pretty impressive, right? When I was young I was absolutely terrified of Count Orlock. I mean, whenever he came on the television for some commercial I would scream and run. Now, I think he's a brilliant character.
Count Orlock is the first Dracula character to come to the big screen along with the first vampire movie ever in 1922. That was nine years before Bela Lugosi in the 1931 Dracula.
You all should know the plot to this, so I won't bore you with my speech about the movie's plot. I mean, it is basically Dracula. Anyway, there are hundreds of famous scenes in this film. Here are a few.
Jonathan meets Count Orlock with a little hat.
Count Orlock in the doorway.
Count Orlock in the coffin.
Count Orlock's shadow while walking up the stairs.
Count Orlock dies.
Have you ever noticed that Lemony Snicket's Count Olaf sounds very similar to Count Orlock? That's where Lemony Snicket got his inspiration for Count Olaf.
Count Orlock definitely does not the good looks like Bela Lugosi, which looks more like the real Dracula in Bram Stroker's novel. Count Orlock has the head of a rat, and a slight hunchback, and a black suit, and in the beginning of the movie, a little hat.
If you're a fan of horror films, pick this sixty-eight minute flick up at Hollywood Video or Blockbuster.
Recommended Films: Dracula, Bram Stroker's Dracula, and Taste the Blood of Dracula.
"Nosferatu - eine Symphonie des Grauens" (Nosferatu - a symphony of horror)
is to my knowledge the first vampire movie ever made, and in my opinion,
this still stand as the benchmark.
This film is directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, one of the masters of
silent movies, and this is in my view his finest movie.
This movie is full of very powerful imagery, which Murnau is famous for and
Max Schreck is perfect as the vampire Count Orlok.
This movie was recently released on a 2-disc dvd, which is a must for any
serious filmcollector. If you want a great vampire-movie, you should go for
this one, as it crushes the competition.
'Nosferatu' came out on a very disturbed time for the world history.
Germany had lost the war only three years earlier, and because of this
fact that the 'German Impressionism' cinema movement began. In this
movement, lots of important movies came out that redefined genres,
created genres, and influences film-making up to today. 'Nosferatu' is
one of the most famous pictures of this time, along with 1919's 'The
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari', 1927's 'Metropolis' and 1931's 'M'.
This movie is loosely based on Bram Stroker's Dracula, and it's the first adaption of the famous novel. But I really don't like the way the story was presented here. It isn't told well, and looks a bit confusing. The titles are too vague, and they don't really explain what's going on. This is one of these movies in which you don't really care what's going to happen. The plot is about a house salesman that is sent to Transylvania in order to sell a house to Count Orlok. The Count buys the house, but only because he is interested in the Count's wife. After this point, the story turns into something weird, and nothing like 'Dracula'. That's why I think it's unfair to compare this with 'Dracula' (although I do prefer the 1931's version of 'Dracula', but as I said...).
The acting is really the main reason this movie is so famous. The supporting cast is all excellent, but it's the main part that steals all your attention. Max Schreck is absolute perfect as Count Orlok. He provides a haunting, yet serious and scary interpretation. There's even one movie in which the matter of him been a true vampire is discussed (2000's 'Shadow of the Vampire').
The other aspects aren't really worth mentioning. F. W. Murrau's directing is okay for 1922, so is the rest. The titles are well made, but confusing. One thing that really bothered me was the blue and yellow tints to represent night and day, but this is not a problem only with this movie. Lots of 1920's silent movies utilize this resource.
Overral, this is a mice movie, with an excellent acting, but a confusing and bad-told story. From its period, I prefer much more the also German 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari'.
One of the few truly terrifying films ever made, Nosferatu is a classic
film, pure and simple. The atmosphere is phenomenal, just bristling
with that early German style. Max Shrek looks incredible as Orlock,
easily the most terrifying image of a vampire of all-time. As for the
score, I saw the Type O Negative version. Very uneven, though at times
it's truly amazing. In many scenes it seems very out of place, but in
others such as the infamous Door scene, it fit perfectly and elevated
the tension of an already scary scene. The actors weren't very good,
but it's not often you see a silent film with good actors. Overall this
is one of the only films that can actually scare me. Though Dracula '31
is easily a better film, it doesn't even hold a candle to this in terms
of pure scare factor.
PS - The DVD I have had a rather interesting introduction by David Carradine that I enjoyed.
I love the Dracula story. I have seen the Lugosi one so many times. The
book has always been a favorite. This one has withstood the test of
time wonderfully. First of all, make the Count (who goes by another
name to avoid copyright infringement) about as ugly and unbent as one
can be (he looks like he has pole shoved through his body), throw in
the Carpathians and the Borgo Pass, and you have the makings of a
delightful film. Harker is such a putz as he laughs his way into the
culture of the Transylvanians. He is so cocky and sure of himself,
walking confidently up to the castle. That doesn't last long. One look
at Max Schrek and all those fine thoughts go right out the window.
Escaping, he makes his way back to his home while the Count goes about
his business. The ship, of course, has lost its entire crew and a
stowaway was being investigated. The Captain tied himself to the wheel.
As the evil arrives, the plague takes over the city. A weird character
named Renfield is eating flies and spiders and seems to have a
connection to the Count. I always remember the "stark raving mad"
Dwight Fry who came to London with the Lugosi Dracula, with his
haunting laugh. This is an older man who looks about as bizarre as a
person can look. This is one of the charms of the silent piece. These
people appear so strange. Even the more conventional characters:
Harker, his wife Nina (to avoid Mina, of course) just look so strange.
I know it's a silent film and faces needed oodles of makeup to be seen
properly by the camera. But if I saw Nina on the street, I'm not so
sure I wouldn't run the other way.
It all gets resolved with great sacrifice. The story is a great one and despite some of the missing sensuality, it works quite well. It must have been quite a sight in its day.
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
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