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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
On Google you can get statistics on how often men who work in high rise
towers use the washroom (don't bother) but I keep waiting to see stats
on the number of "serious" cineastes who have never seen a silent
film...? Some think that, like sushi, it is an acquired taste. Not
really. Remember that, in the age of books (those rectangular things
made of folded paper), readers had to "imagine" BOTH the visuals and
the audio. So here we are one step closer to Imax, if you prefer to
think of it that way. Anyway, if you have never seen a silent film,
this is where you want to start. The strangeness of both the film and
the actor (Shreck) have never been duplicated. The movie is
unforgettable, a term I cannot readily recall using often in my
reviews. So unforgettable that (this is extraordinary) some 80 years
later Hollywood did an entire production not as a remake, but rather an
alleged narrative based on the filming of the original -- and that film
hinted that the reason the actor in the first was so effective was
because (wait for it...) he was a real vampire who just lucked into
getting the part. Wow.
(Another silent film recommendation: the original Zorro, demonstrates what we today call "athleticism" to a degree that is extraordinary).
Sometimes, I think that from over hundred years of Cinema history the
best, the most creative and exciting years were in the relative
beginning, in the first decades of the 20th Century. The old films that
I've watched lately don't seem old - they are timeless. Their beauty
and mystery -unsurpassable, their influence - immense, the pleasure
they bring - incomparable. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens made
in 1922 by F.W. Murnau is one of these movies. It is so finely crafted,
so well thought of, so lovingly produced, so beautiful to look at, and
so creepy and genuinely scary that I believe it will stay one of the
best films of the horror genre and true inspiration for present and
future directors, and not just horror film directors. A Symphony of
Horror is a pure cinematic delight, poetry on screen from the first
shot to the final. Werner Herzog came quite close in 1979 in his
updated color version of the same film but I prefer Murnau's film a bit
more, perhaps, because it was the first one and Murnau had no previous
film to compare to or more likely, because no one, even fabulous Kinski
could not be as creepy and frightening as Max Shreck.
The B&W photography with astounding use of sepia gave some scenes a somber dramatic, Gothic tone. Each frame deserved to be captured and enjoyed for the sheer beauty and elegance. The scenery was breathtaking, storytelling - solid and compelling. Hans Erdman's 1922 score created a perfect sound background for the story. The most fascinating asset of the film though was not even acting but simply presence of Max Shreck. What a mesmerizing magnificent ugliness that would not let you take your eyes off his face, fangs, ears, and spider like fingers. The first film in the vampire series, Nosferatu started genre of poetic horror, the most interesting and artful in the family of horror films.
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.
This film is a classic of the German film director Friedrich Wilhelm
Nosferatu meaning "Likes the Blood", was originally determined by the wife of Bram Stoker to be a illegal film copy of her husbands book. Just before the film Dracula(1931) was released she made sure that every copy of the film had been destroyed or so she thought.
When this event happened, F. W. Murnau was horribly hurt because he made the film as a tribute to his favorite book and writer Bram Stoker.
Later in the 1930's film copies of Nosferatu started showing up in Austria and only three copies are known to exist today, this film was the only true showing of what Stoker wanted his Dracula to be like and it was captured well by the master of horror F. W. Murnau.
In fact, the Dracula film was way off from what Stoker intended his vampire to be like. He said Alucard was a ugly malformed dawn walking monster. His family didn't want to scare children, so the vampire was turned into a handsome smooth talking gentleman, but this was not the way Stoker would have wanted it, so current films are ruined because of the rudeness of Mrs. Stoker a true loser.
We rate Mrs. Stoker to be a true loser because if she had gotten her way Nosferatu wouldn't exist today and I would have never gotten a view of the most interesting film at early parts of the 1920's.
There are many things that place this film in your "see before you die"
category. It's a priceless, fantastic piece of work, from start to
finish, and it has beautiful staying power, even now. But there are a
few things that work against it. The music to the film lends neither
good, nor bad to it. Understandably, this is very early film, and
perception of people watching the film in the twenties was probably
vastly different, but seeing as this could be considered one of the
earliest horror movies, the music from this film could very much have
been better used in a silent drama, or comedy.
On that note, Max Schreck is perfect. Much has been said about his ability to capture the character so perfectly (as in Shadow of the Vampire), and it's true. Though it's in no way comparable to Bela Lugosi as a character, this movie is still a very important piece in cinema, and I'm honored to be able to say that I've had the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a brilliant work of early cinema.
In the opening scenes, "Nosferatu" establishes itself through a series of
ominous images: an obscured sunset, a silenced crowd at a Carpathian inn,
and two of the most dreadfully frightening characters I've ever witnessed in
a film. Max Schreck and Alexander Granach play Count Orlock and Mackler
Knock respectively, and both deliver performances that, even though they are
silent, evoke as much fear and mystery as Hannibal Lecter.
What is so impressive about this film is that it is able to inspire fear without modern horror film conventions. No objects suddenly revealing themselves alongside a bold musical note, no horror villain stereotypes. This movie inspires fear through the manipulation of its characters; their movements, their costume and in the case of Count Orlock, their slow, foreboding walk. The most frightening point in this film is when the wide eyes of Max Schreck are first seen. This is not the kind of horror that warrants a scream, but rather leaves you completely silent and in awe of its genius
I gave this movie a 9 almost exclusively because of its innovation and artistry. The plot, which bares little resemblance to the Stoker novel in that it doesn't include many of the sub-stories, is not as enthralling as recent versions. Then again it doesn't need it, the purpose is clear and apparent; Nosferatu is not suave or manipulating, it is a torn, haunted soul and this movie gives the only sincere depiction of Dracula that I have seen. Truly remarkable.
Atmospheric and expressionistic horror classic that was part of a fruitful period in German art especially the cinema. During the 1920s German cinema flousished with films that gave us images ranging from bizarre to breathtaking. The Greatest horror film of the Silent period because there isn't any other film of its genre that is amazing in visual storytelling. Excellent direction by a pioneer of German Cinema, F.W. Murnau. He was one of the best directors from his country besides Fritz Lang and a couple other German filmmakers. Nosferatu(1922) is Dracula in everything but namesake. Max Schreck is menacing as the mysterious and sad figure Count Dracula. Remade into a very good picture by Werner Herzog with a faithful homage to Max Schreck by Klaus Kinski. The greatest adaptation of the Dracula story ever put on the motion picture screen.
With well over a hundred reviews on IMDB and Amazon, and with only a few disappointed viewers, this seminal work by Murnau is proven yet again to be a masterpiece of horror, as enjoyable today as when it was first released. The print I saw on TCM is the newly restored, tinted and complete version (84 minutes compared to the 63 of most earlier video releases) and it is like night and day compared to the earlier available materials. This is the sharpest print I have seen and the tinting is excellent (yellow, brown, red, lavender and blue take us from full sun to interiors, to sunsets, to twilight to night). The adaptation is masterly and the "gimmicks" used to great effect. Was it a joke or deliberate that a mirror is placed leaning on the wall behind the creature as it feeds on Ellen with Orlock clearly reflected in it - we first see her husband as the film opens also preening in front of a mirror. Is this a Freudian Jekyll and Hyde story as well as a vampire film? Very highly recommended for all who love film and masterful direction.
In my opinion, this is the best vampire movie made, ever. But beyond that, it is an incredibly powerful visual film as well. Max Shreck looks simply fantastic in the makeup that SHOULD have defined the role that would be inherited by Bela Lugosi. The only vampire movie that stands up to this one is "Vampyr".
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.
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