Nosferatu This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Arguably the first vampire movie ever, Nosferatu opened in Germany in 1922 under the direction of F.W. Murnau, one of the German Expressionist directors of the time. For those who don't know, German Expression was a style in film that centered around smaller set-pieces being better than the grand landscaping of American cinema, as the sets could be as surreal or dark as possible which helped set the mood of the film. Obviously, this style of film was mostly useful only for fantasy or horror pictures.

Which brings us to Nosferatu, the only film - a vampire film at that - I've ever seen that successfully transfers the Gothic horror and atmosphere of a novel to the big screen. Another thing to note before beginning my review is that Nosferatu is actually an unauthorized adaption of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Yep. The studio couldn't afford the rights to the novel, so they had to change character/location names for the film. "Vampire" became "Nosferatu", "Dracula" became "Count Orlok", "Johnathan Harker" became "Thomas Hutter", etc. and so forth. Eventually, when Dracula became public domain, a cut was released that has all of the correct names, while interchanging the terms "Vampire" and "Nosferatu". This cut is very rare, though, as it was a very limited release. This reviewer just *happens* to own that rare cut. ;)

Anyway! Nosferatu revolves around Johnathan Harker, an employee of real estate agent Renfield, who has been sent to Transylvania to visit a new client by the name of Count Dracula. I'd actually rather leave the story element there, as the film is much better when you don't know what to expect. Admittedly, the film does take some liberties with the story of Dracula, but these changes are no problem when it comes to how exceptional this film is.

As I stated earlier,this film is the only one I've seen that captures the essence of fear, dark Romanticism, and Gothic nature present in the ever-classic Gothic-Horror novels of old, such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Carmilla, etc. The way it captures this essence in its purity is through the way the film's shot and through the music of the film. It's just breath-taking to behold, in all of its cinematic goodness.

The characters and their relationships are all portrayed exceptionally well, especially Max Schreck as Dracula and the chemistry between Johnathan and Mina. Those two aspects of the film are done SO well, and it makes you chuckle at the fact that a silent film can pull off romance, yet the majority of Hollywood can't even make romance look appealing in the least. Max Schreck...oh gosh...his performance alone is worth seeing this movie. He needn't say anything, his eyes and rodent-like features speak for themselves.

The film doesn't try to scare you, either. It doesn't frighten with evil laughter, grotesque sights, and all that jazz. It relies on shadow and imagery, having the antagonist of our film slip in and out of "the shadows", never knowing where he is or what's he up to until he makes his presence known. It's chilling and haunting, to say the least.

Complaints? Just one. Dracula has two, small lines that are kind of corny. That's about it...

Let this film be a lesson to all horror films, especially vampire films which have become so freaking awful in the past few years, that all it takes is a gothic atmosphere, a haunting villain, and a chilling soundtrack to be amazing. Forgive me if I'm taking a leap, but this may be the greatest horror film ever made.


10/10 - Best of the Best





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

zombii said...
Mar. 14, 2010 at 7:57 pm
First, I am shocked that someone reviewed vampire movie that's not Twilight on this site.
Second, this is a great review of a classic movie. I agree with everything you've said about this movie. It's not scary but it's creepy and definitely stays with you. I haven't see the original without the Nosferatu names. Thank you for reviewing this movie and as another fan, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
 
mamableu said...
Nov. 18, 2009 at 10:17 am
Firstly, I am NOT a fan of vampire films, per se...I read this review because I enjoyed your writing style and concise representation of plot, theme, and characterization in your other reviews. After reading this review, I might have to see the film, especially in light of your statement that the film relies on both shadow and imagery, rather then grotesque sights, and gratuitous blood, etc. I look foward to more of your work!
 
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