Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Movie Review: Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) a.k.a Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror a.k.a Nosferatu, a Symphony of Terror a.k.a Terror of Dracula 
Jofa-Atelier Berlin-Johannisthal, Prana-Film GmbH, Germany, 1922. 
Nosferatu 1922 title
This movie is part of Horror Classics 50 Movie Pack by Mill Creek Entertainment. 

Based on novel "Dracula" by Bram Stoker.

Diary of historian Johann Cavallius tells about horrible vampire Nosferatu who brought the plague to Bremen in 1838. In that fateful year young estate agent Jonathon Harker or Hutter in the original German version (Gustav von Wangenheim) is leaving his wife Nina or Ellen (Greta Schröder) to go on a business trip. Creepy estate agent Renfield or Knock (Alexander Granach) sends Harker to Transylvania because Count Dracula or Orlok in the German version (Max Schreck) wants to buy a house in Bremen. 
Greta Schröder
Gustav von Wangenheim
Alexander Granach
In Transylvania people are shocked to hear that Harker is going to visit Dracula. In his hotel room Harker finds a book about vampires. Harker is not scared at all but happily continues his voyage. In the castle he noticed that the Count has weird affection to blood. The Count sees picture of Harker's wife and decides that he likes her throat. It is also abnormal that the Count sleeps in a coffin. Harker and Nina start feeling nervous. The Count packs up his coffins and travels to Bremen in a ship. Soon sailors start having bite marks on their necks. 
Max Schreck
Packing up
John Gottowt
Van Helsing/Bulfer
Harker suffers a mental breakdown that delays him from returning home. Meanwhile in Bremen Professor Van Helsing (John Gottowt, Prof. Bulfer in German version) lectures about vampires of the animal kingdom. Renfield is under vampire's spell and has gone to mental asylum. Also sleepwalking Nina is eagerly waiting for the Count. The ship arrives to harbour bringing plague into the town. Harker tries to save Nina with help from the Professor.
The estate of Bram Stoker wanted the film destroyed because of copyright reasons, but luckily some copies of the film were saved. Being one of the earliest vampire film it was influential in creating the mythos that would be later present in vampire films. Murnau used innovative effects and shadow to build a creepy atmosphere. Stop-motion animation was used to demonstrate the supernatural speed of the vampire. One of the most memorable scenes is Nosferatu rising straight up from his coffin. 
shadow of the vampire
Max Schreck is the ugliest and unsexy Dracula ever seen: thin, bald and having rat-like fangs and terrible fingernails. The later films with Bela Lugosi created archetype of more gentleman type handsome Carpathian vampire. It can not be considered very scary by modern standards but the nightmarish atmosphere and darkly beautiful cinematography with decaying buildings make it one of the best vampire films. "Nosferatu" is also one of the most important silent horror films and should be watched by everyone.

The Mill Creek version is 80 minutes and the intertitles refer to the characters as their original names from Bram Stoker's book. The soundtrack consists of ominous organ music. (I have also better quality 2005/06 restored version of this film that runs 94 minutes and has orchestral score.)

Let's make this part of The 2016 Movie Watching Challenge (#23. Black and white movie)

Rating: Excellent

Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Georg H. Schnell, Ruth Landshoff, Gustav Botz, Alexander Granach, John Gottowt, Max Nemetz, Wolfgang Heinz, Albert Venohr, Eric van Viele, Karl Etlinger, Guido Herzfeld, Hans Lanser-Rudolf, Loni Nest, Fanny Schreck, Hardy von Francois, Heinrich Witte 
Director: F.W. Murnau


  1. A masterpiece, if there ever was one. It's amazing how creepy the atmosphere still is.

    1. Long time ago I saw the restaured version in movie theatre. That was a great experience.


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