Friday, August 21, 2009

#73 - Nosferatu

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)
Not so trashy

Directed by: F.W. Murnau. Written by: Henrik Galeen based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Plot: An ancient vampire (Max Schreck) travels from his home in the back woods of Romania to Germany in order to bother a beautiful young woman (Greta Schroeder).

Review: What I find most interesting about this film is that, unlike most other Dracula flicks, the vampire - called Count Orlok for copyright purposes - is not remotely sexy. He’s fucking weird looking what with his bald head and his long fingers. I always thought Mr. Green sort of looked like Orlok, if he shaved his head and had really scary looking eyes.

I can’t think of any other instance where Dracula is not portrayed as at least slightly hot (save the remake of Nosferatu, which I will get to in time). It’s weirdly refreshing. There is nothing seductive or even remotely likeable about the Count. He’s just gross. It’s a fun thing to bring up when talking to the new wave of vampire nuts. When they talk about how sexy vampires are or whatever, just bring up Nosferatu. In my experience, they usually haven’t seen it, but some of them probably have and will laugh with you.

Anyway, I saw this around the same time as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and have always compared the two in my mind for whatever reason. Both are silent horror films from Germany and both were made around the same time. Cabinet seems to be shot mostly indoors, with freaky-ass sets; Nosferatu seems to be shot mostly on location. Nosferatu is adapted from an established story. Cabinet is really weird.

But that’s just how I look at it. Otherwise, I always thought this movie was kind of cool. It’s a little bit on the slow side in spots (I probably just think that because it’s a silent flick - like most people of my generation, I never really grew accustomed to silent films. It’s just such a different format and I always feel like it‘s a bit of an effort to watch or something), but it makes up for it in coolness.

For example: in most adaptations of the Dracula legend, the Count is killed by Van Helsing or one of the lads. I dunno who exactly kills him in the book, I just know they used a bowie knife. In this version, he gets killed by Ellen, the babe (AKA Mina). I think she sacrifices herself to kill him or something girly like that, but still. She kicks his undead ass. Right on. This movie is cool. I kinda like it when that kind of thing happens.

Favourite Part: The bit with the shadow and everything. You know, the part everybody remembers, where he’s coming up the stairs and there’s that crazy ass shadow on the wall and he like grabs her heart or whatever. That part is really cool and really creepy.

Other Versions: The novel has been adapted countless times, but this particular version was remade in ‘79.

Sequels: None.

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