Nosferatu (1922)

“Blood is life! Blood is life!!!”

Synopsis:
Real estate agent Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) travels to Transylvania to meet with a reclusive client named Count Orlok (Max Schreck), who sucks his blood, then sets out by sea to find and ravage Hutter’s wife (Greta Schroder).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary refers to this early F.W. Murnau adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula as “the greatest of all vampire films”, noting that it stars “the most-hideous looking vampire there has ever been”, possesses “a surprising amount of tension”, and features an “extremely powerful” finale. Peary’s review primarily centers on an analysis of Orlok’s vampiric “sexual aggression”, and Schroder’s willingness to “overcome her sexual repression… rather than letting [Orlok’s] sexual aggression be what sexually liberates her.” These “sexually” charged scenes, however, only comprise the final few minutes of the film; the remainder of the story is memorable due primarily to Murnau (and cinematographer Fritz Wagner’s) “haunting images” — in Orlok’s castle, at sea on the “death ship” (Orlok’s presence on board causes a rat-infested plague), and in the streets of Hutter’s hometown.

Film fanatics will be interested to note that Nosferatu possesses a notorious history: Murnau and his producer failed to secure the rights from Stoker’s widow to film Dracula, and — despite their concession in changing the names of the characters — eventually were forced to burn all copies of the negative. Fortunately, at least a few prints survived, and the film has now become one of the most iconic horror flicks of the silent era.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Max Schreck as Count Orlok
    Nosferatu Schreck
  • Fritz Wagner’s cinematography
    Nosferatu Shadows
  • Countless memorable images
    Nosferatu Death
  • Nosferatu Schreck
    Nosferatu Window

Must See?
Yes, for its historical importance. Remade by Werner Herzog in 1979.

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(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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One Response to “Nosferatu (1922)”

  1. Agreed, a must for its historical importance. It’s a silent that holds up well, moves at a good clip, and remains potent – thanks largely (as noted) to director Murnau and the DP’s inventive camerawork (I particularly like the framing in the various scenes at the castle).

    Wouldn’t say it’s the best vampire movie ever – or that there is a best vampire movie; there are too many good ones to consider, and advanced technology over the years has made ‘Nosferatu’ turn somewhat pale. But those other films owe much to ‘Nosferatu’, so ffs do need to take note.

    Funny how, in profile, von Wangenheim resembles Roman Polanski in ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’.

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