Monday, January 30, 2006

Nosferatu (1922)

Even the hideous need love from time to time...

Genre: Silent Fantasy Vampire Horror Thriller (Germany)

Starring: Max Schreck (The Grand Duke's Finances), Gustav von Wangenheim

Directed By: F.W. Murnau (The Last Laugh; Tabu: A Story of the South Seas)

Overview: Based on Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, this timeless classic is the story of a man who escorts a new buyer from his Transylvanian home to the house across the street, unfortunately discovering along that way that he's a plague carrying vampire.

Acting: Max Schreck. He plays a weirdo, an eccentric recluse, and a hideous, twisted vampire. Without him, this would never have stood the test of time. Sadly the others aren't that impressive: the realtor, his wife, even the gitchy madman. Whether they pale in comparison on purpose or if they're just poorly directed I don't know, but it's a shame that Max had to carry everyone, including the director.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: It is so obvious the long-lasting impact that this film has had on every genre from Thriller to Horror to Suspense. You'll see a scene and think "Classic!". I can't say that Murnau did the best in telling people how to act, but setting up the scene, and his choices for the look were absolutely stunning. Beautiful film.
Rating: 8

Script: "Your wife. She has a lovely neck." - Count Orlock

The telling is also a mite weak overall. I like that much of it was just the characters reading about the vampiric condition rather than all dialogue, but it was nothing special at all, except for the actual lines of Count Orlock, which are perfectly creepy and telling.
Rating: 7

Plot: The story is simple: Foreigner buys a house, asks for help to move. A business man is sent and finds that the man whom he will soon be neighbors with is a weirdo, then finds out he's a vampire, then when he gets across the ocean, he brings a plague with him to boot. Nice story, well told, and very different from the modern Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Rating: 7

Mood: The story opens up a little eccentric, a little fluffy, and when the Count is introduced, it turns all dark and creepy with vampiric powers and rats everywhere. Long shadows and haunting images abound. You will be impressed, yes sir. Max is a great vampire, period. I mean just LOOK at him!
Rating: 8

"Mlehn! Mlenh!" Jesus is Max Shreck ever awesome!

Overall Rating: 76% (A Blood-Letting Good Time)

Aftertaste: This is such a keeper, what a tale. It's not the best ever, but it's short and one of the big classics of the Silent Cinema days. After taking an in-depth look at film from this era, I've come to realize, honestly, if you've heard of a thing long before getting into something (like knowing that Chateau Lafitte is the best wine, or that Cohibas are the best cigars) it's probably got that reputation for a reason. You know Nosferatu is a classic, and you won't be disappointed.