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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nosferatu (1922) - F.W. Murnau


Murnau's Nosferatu is one of the most iconic silent films of all time. The scene of Count Orlock drinking the blood of some victim and then looking out at the audience is burned into my mind. That is literally the picture that pops in my head when someone says Nosferatu. Which doesn't happen as much as you think it would. Its really not talked about in normal cinema conversation. Even when vampires are brought up. It should. It really should be talked about. This movie has seen so many re-releases that it is hard NOT to see. Its really hard to find an unaltered copy of this film as it has been in the Public Domain now for some time. The movie is yet another German Expressionist film showcasing art above all. Wonderful set design and beautiful acting bring this movie full circle.

This leading vampire is one of the best to be put to celluloid. Max Schreck is right on par with his blood sucking peers, the other top vampires being Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee. He might just be tied with Bela Lugosi and putting them up against each other (Dracula or Count Orlock) is like comparing Heath Ledger's Joker to Jack Nicholson's. Two completely different performances of two completely separate versions of the same character. 

The plot is simple yet familiar. Count Orlock (Max Schreck) is securing the purchase of a home from Real Estate Agent Thomas (Gustav von Wangenheim). While on his journey, Thomas gets a hold of a book on vampires and vampire lore. The text warns him of various vampire-stic things. Thomas goes with his gut and doesn't listen to the book. Instead he plays this one by ear. However, his judgement is flawed and, turns out, Orlock is a vampire. Count Orlock then moves to England where he has his new digs and terrorizes the locals. 


The thing that carries this movie is the performance from Max Schreck. He was superb. The more that I read about him the more he becomes this creepy figure that had a great niche. The art/set design in this movie is spectacular. F.W. Murnau knows exactly what he is doing behind the camera. This is a crowning achievement in expressionist horror. Definitely on the list of greatest horror films of all time. The older this movie gets, the creepier it becomes. 

Catch ya in the rye

S!D
  • Count Orlok is only seen blinking one time on screen (near the end of part 1)
  • Bram Stokers widow hated the movie and had all prints burned. However, some started to pop up around the world in different countries. 
  • This is the very first time in film history in which a vampire is killed by sunlight. F.W. Murnau knew that he would be sued for borrowing heavily from Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula without permission so he changed the ending so that he could say this film and Dracula were not exactly the same.

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