Mar 11, 2008

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror

Despite being less than two decades shy of a century old, F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu is still the greatest vampire film ever made. Count Orlock is also the most grotesque and eerie vampire to be captured on celluloid. Actor Max Schreck’s performance as the vampire goes far behind method acting. I have no problem suspending reality and seeing the vampire as authentic. E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire was even mildly entertaining in it's fictional portrayal of Max Schreck as a real vampire.

My first introduction to Nosferatu was in early elementary school. An episode of Nickelodeon’s Are You Araid of The Dark? featured Count Orlock coming to life and infiltrating a movie theater. I decided then that he was the greatest vampire ever. I have seen my fair share of vampire films and not one of them can compare to the radiating trance that Count Orlock omits in Nosferatu. Francis Ford Coppala’s Dracula is quite a blasphemous adaptation. I thought that guy was supposed to be one the best directors ever (another Hollywood fantasy)?

Nosferatu features a real Slovakian castle in ruins (in place of Romania). F.W. Murnau was one of the first directors (especially in regards to German expressionist cinema) to use real sets for shooting. This also furthers Nosferatu’s realistic feel. In contemporary cinema, we would expect the castle to be a CGI effect that destroys any type of human sense that such a gothic set should conjure up.

The years have not been too kind to Nosferatu. Like all films of the silent era, Nosferatu features the decay of celluloid (Murnau’s six original films have been lost forever). The deterioration and scratches Nosferatu has acquired over the years thankfully at least add to the films character. I can only imagine the truly dark scares Nosferatu caused when it was first released in 1922. Also take in consideration the live orchestra that would accompany the film.

F.W. Murnau was one of the foremost innovators of cinema. Nosferatu, The Last Laugh, Faust, and Sunrise are testaments to Murnua’s monumental contribution to the art of cinema. I would even say that he was even a superior director to fellow German expressionist director Fritz Lang. May F.W. Murnau's dark soul rest in piece.

-Ty E

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you considered writing a review of Nosferatu starring Klaus Kinski?