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Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

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ON DISC
The filming of Nosferatu (1922) is hampered by the fact that its star Max Schreck is taking the role of a vampire far more seriously than seems humanly possible.

Director:

E. Elias Merhige

Writer:

Steven Katz
Reviews
Popularity
4,584 ( 169)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Malkovich ... Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
Willem Dafoe ... Max Schreck
Udo Kier ... Albin Grau
Cary Elwes ... Fritz Arno Wagner
Catherine McCormack ... Greta Schröder
Eddie Izzard ... Gustav von Wangenheim
Aden Gillett ... Henrik Galeen
Nicholas Elliott Nicholas Elliott ... Paul (as Nicholas Elliot)
Ronan Vibert ... Wolfgang Müller
Sophie Langevin Sophie Langevin ... Elke
Myriam Muller Myriam Muller ... Maria
Milos Hlavac Milos Hlavac ... Innkeeper (as Milos Hlavak)
Marja-Leena Junker Marja-Leena Junker ... Innkeeper's Wife
Derek Kueter ... Reporter 1
Norman Golightly Norman Golightly ... Reporter 2
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Storyline

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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

An Unspeakable Horror. A Creative Genius. Captured For Eternity.

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality, drug content, violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA | Luxembourg

Language:

English | German | Luxembourgish

Release Date:

26 January 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Burned to Light See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$150,171, 1 January 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$8,293,784

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$11,155,214
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cary Elwes has now starred in two film interpretations concerning Dracula, the other being Dracula (1992). See more »

Goofs

When Greta arrives on the island, she takes off one of her gloves. In a different shot, she has both of her gloves on. See more »

Quotes

F.W. Murnau: I will not allow you to destroy my picture!
Max Schreck: This is hardly your picture any longer.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Steamer, a revolutionary machine designed and built to cure the foam prosthetics rapidly due to the very limited production constraints. A world first in foam latex curing within the film industry. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Phantasie (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

The Flying Dutchman Overture
Written by Richard Wagner
Courtesy of KPM Music Limited
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User Reviews

 
Great concept, well executed
14 October 2001 | by doverSee all my reviews

First off, this is a much better movie if you have seen Murnau's expressionist masterpiece, "Nosferatu". There are a number of scenes from this movie that draw on "Nosferatu", and it makes a lot of the scenes more enjoyable. The movie is done in very much an expressionist vein it itself, the kind of film F.W. Murnau would certainly have appreciated.

The concept here is incredibly intriguing - what if a horror movie was a horror to film? Once the film kicks into gear, it establishes a rather creepy mood, especially in the sets, most of which mirror those of "Nosferatu" (the writer's bed, for instance, looks exactly like Hutter's).

As the film progresses, the actors take over the film, and it's interesting to see how they stack up to their precursors from 70 years ago. Eddie Izzard is an interesting Hutter (the Jonathan Harker analog), as (pretend) silent acting is well-tailored to his overbearing antics. Udo Kier is quite good as reserved producer Albin Grau. Alas, Cary Elwes, one of Hollywood's most underappreciated actors, is typecast as a kind of roguish, free-spirited Fritz Wagner, a real cinematographer (and the main one throughout all of "Nosferatu") and one of the stalwarts of German cinema into the 50's.

Malkovich is ideal for this role. He does a good job of being a manic, desparate for everything on his film to go right. His Murnau is a control-freak, a guy who keeps his crew in the dark, and adds to the generally creepiness.

The most curious thing about Murnau's "Nosferatu" is the vampire himself. The rest of the characters are pretty direct analogs of "Dracula". But instead of a suave, cool vampire of the Christopher Lee/Gary Oldman mold (later roles, of course), Murnau's vampire was a stiff, cold, violent monster. Willem Dafoe is absolutely brilliant in portraying this. He has some moments of comedic relief, bickering harmlessly with Malkovich, and generally being a fish out of water. Soon, however, his character becomes undeniably creepy, and Dafoe does a great job of making Count Orlok seem like the kind of guy who makes your skin crawl. In some way, this Orlok is less of a monster - he's portrayed a bit more sympathetically, sorrowing in his loneliness and never getting to see light. Murnau's vampire was almost always shot from below, making him appear huge and menacing; Dafoe's Orlok isn't monstrous so much as he just makes your skin crawl.

I do have a couple beefs, though, mainly technical. On a purely nitpicky level, Murnau is mentioned as a comtemporary of Griffith and Eisenstein, despite the fact that Eisenstein didn't make a movie until two years after "Nosferatu". On a less petty level, the characters seem a bit dumb. They have no problem accepting the fact that Orlok is an actual vampire once Malkovich tells them, but can't seem to figure it out on their own, despite seeing, among other things, Orlok pulling a bat out of the air and sucking the blood out of it.

The film, in general, does not end well. The penultimate scene is horribly contrived, a lot of silly reminiscing to to advance the plot a little. The ending itself isn't necessarily bad, just a bit ambigous. You don't come away with a clear sense of who (if anyone) was wronged amongst the main characters, and we leave a couple of them in limbo. A couple of technical details are odd, too. Murnau's Nosferatu has a shadow and a reflection, but this one only a shadow. Also, in the final scene they are supposedly filming, there's a wooden stake that's nowhere to be found in "Nosferatu".

A quick note, by the way - while the movie they are filming actually exists, rest assured the story is pure fantasy. Max Schreck went on to make more movies, as did the rest of the actors in this film, and no actors were bitten during the filming of the original movie.

A thououghly enjoyable film, especially if you're familiar with the subject matter.


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