Shadow of the Vampire is a film about the making of a German all time classic silent horror-movie from 1922 called Nosferatu-Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu-a Symphony of Horror). The production of Nosferatu had to deal with a lot of strange things (some crew members disappeared, some died). This movie focuses on the difficult relationship between Murnau, the director, and Schreck, the lead actor. Written by
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As a silent film fanatic, I went to see this film as soon as it opened, highly anticipating what I thought would be a fitting tribute to F. W. Murnau. I left the theater and demanded my money back after the first 45 minutes. It was that terrible.
It's shameful that so much talent went into the making of a film that sounded so unique and had so much promise, but turned out to be an utter wreck. It seems to me that none of the people involved had any love for Murnau's art or for silent film in general. In fact, I think the film was made with the same contempt as "Fractured Flickers" or others of that ilk. All of the actors, but especially Dafoe, "hammed up" the silent film acting so that everyone in the audience laughed. Malkovich, as Murnau, cranks the film at different speeds according to his whim, and he and his cameraman are never cranking at even remotely the same speed. He directs his actors by saying "Now go here, now do this, now do that..." as though silent film directors merely "talked" their actors through their paces. All of this is ridiculous as Malkovich is touted as a "genius" and lectures on and on about film as art. What we see on the screen is silent film as a joke, which makes all this talk of "genius" into a laugh.
If you are a fan of silent film, or if you are someone who would like to learn more about Murnau, do yourself a favor--rent "Noseferatu" or "Sunrise" and watch genius from the source. Don't waste the time or money to see this film.
However, if you're just going to see a vampire flick or a cheesy horror movie along the lines of "Scream", or if you think silent films are a joke, then your $7 won't be wasted.
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