Nosferatu (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens)
Release year: 1922
Director: F.W. Murnau
Screenwriter: Henrik Galeen, Bram Stoker (Novel)
Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav Von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Georg H. Schnell, Ruth Landshoff, Alexander Granach
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #17, week 40 2014
The vampire Count Orlok wishes to buy a residence in Wisburg and estate agent Hutter is sent to Transylvannia to close the deal. However, Orlok soon begins to express an ominous interest in Hutter’s wife, Ellen.
F.W. Murnau’s unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula was famously destroyed after a legal suit by Stoker’s widow. To our great luck copies subsequently surfaced in other contries and the film was reconstructed. Although screen writer Henrik Galeen swayed a lot from the original story when writing his script, Nosferatu might be the adaptation that is closest to the original novel in spirit. The story is moved to 1838 and set in Wisburg in Germany instead of London. Our main character is estate agent Hutter, sent to Transylvannia to close a deal with Count Orlok. His beloved wife remains behind to worry and soon develops a spiritual link to the creepy count. Hutter is played sympathetically by Gustav von Wangenheim (the director’s third choice), while Gerda Schröder adds plenty of silent era aesthetics and grace to his wife, Ellen. However, the real star of Nosferatu is Max Schreck giving a timeless perfomance as the title character. Schreck’s rat like appearance and completely transformative perfomance is as captivating as ever. Despite only appearing for 9 minutes, every frame he is in is iconic and the parts you are most likely to remember long after the final frame. The fact that Nosferatu is a silent movie might scare some people away, but you shouldn’t be discouraged by it. Not only are silent movies often as engrossing as talkies, Nosferatu is also one of the more exciting silent pictures. Set the mood beforehand and you’ll find that Nosferatu still has the ability to frighten and captivate its audience. A timeless Classic.
Nosferatu was – quite unsually for its time – filmed mostly on location. Despite being filmed as far back as Autumn 1921, much of the exterior sets in Lübeck and Wisburg remain intact to this day.
Despite being the over-shadowing presence in the movie, Count Orlok is actually only present on screen less than 9 minutes out of the 94 minute running time.
Max Schreck, who played Count Orlok, appears without make-up in the beginning of the movie in a scene in Knock’s office. Schreck’s wife, Fanny, appears uncredited as a nurse.