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An unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Nosferatu is the quintessential silent vampire film, crafted by legendary German director F. W. Murnau (Sunrise, Faust, The Last Laugh).

Rather than depicting Dracula as a shape-shifting monster or debonair gentleman, Murnau's Graf Orlok (as portrayed by Max Schreck) is a nightmarish, spidery creature of bulbous head and taloned claws -- perhaps the most genuinely disturbing incarnation of vampirism yet envisioned.

Nosferatu was an atypical expressionist film in that much of it was shot on location. While directors such as Lang and Lubitsch built vast forests and entire towns within the studio, Nosferatu's landscapes, villages and castle were actual locations in the Carpathian mountains. Murnau was thus able to infuse the story with the subtle tones of nature: both pure and fresh as well as twisted and sinister.

Special Features:
 

  • Lengthy excerpts from other films by F. W. Murnau: Journey Into the Night (1920), The Haunted Castle (1921), Phantom (1922), The Last Laugh (1924), Faust (1926), Tabu (1931)
  • Choose from two musical scores in digital stereo. Score by Donald Sosin with vocals by Joanna Seaton OR Music composed by Gerard Hourbette and Thierry Zabiotzeff performed by Art Floyd.
  • Photo gallery
  • Scene comparison: novel, screenplay and film
  • New and improved English intertitle translation
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL Dual-layer edition
 
A promotional film poster
Directed by F. W. Murnau
Produced by Enrico Dieckmann and Albin Grau
Written by Henrik Galeen
Starring:
Max Schreck
Gustav von Wangenheim
Greta Schröder
Alexander Granach
Ruth Landshoff
Cinematography Fritz Arno Wagner and Günther Krampf
Distributed by Film Arts Guild and Prana-Film
Release date(s): Germany 4 March 1922, USA 3 June 1929
Running time 94 min.
Country: Germany
Language: Silent film, German intertitles

Nosferatu - Eine Symphonie des Grauens (translated as Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror or simply Nosferatu) is a German Expressionist vampire horror film, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was in essence an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (for instance, "vampire" became "Nosferatu" and "Count Dracula" became "Count Orlok").

Plot

Thomas Hutter (Jonathan Harker in Stoker's novel) works at a real estate firm in the fictitious German city of Wisborg. His employer, Knock, sends Hutter to Transylvania to finalize the sale of a house to Count Orlok. Hutter entrusts his loving wife Ellen to his good friend Harding and Harding's sister Ruth, before embarking on his long journey.

Nearing his destination, Hutter stays at an inn, where the locals become frightened by his mere mention of Orlok's name and discourage him from traveling to his castle at night. In his room, Hutter finds a book, The Book of the Vampires, which he peruses before falling asleep.

Max Schreck as Count Orlok in a promotional photo

Late the next day, Hutter is welcomed at the castle by Count Orlok himself. While Hutter has a late dinner, Orlok reads a letter. When Hutter cuts his thumb, Orlok tries to suck the blood out of the wound, but his repulsed guest pulls his hand away. Hutter then falls asleep in the parlor.

He wakes up to an empty castle and notices fresh punctures on his neck, which he attributes to mosquitoes. That night, Orlok signs the documents to purchase the house across from Hutter's own home. Orlok sees Hutter's miniature portrait of his wife and admires her beautiful neck. Reexamining The Book of the Vampires, Hutter starts to suspect that Orlok is Nosferatu, the "Bird of Death" and he opens the door he sees nosferatu just standing there looking at him. He cowers in his room as midnight approaches, but there is no way to bar the door. The door opens by itself and Orlok enters, his true nature finally revealed. At the same time, Ellen sleepwalks and screams for Hutter. She is somehow heard by Orlok, who leaves Hutter untouched.

The next day, Hutter explores the castle. In its crypt, he finds the coffin in which Orlok is resting dormant. Horrified, he dashes back to his room. From the window, he sees Orlok piling up coffins on a coach and climbing into the last one before the coach departs. Hutter escapes the castle through the window, but falls unconscious when he reaches the ground. He is taken to a hospital. When he is sufficiently recovered, Hutter hurries home.

Meanwhile, the coffins are shipped down river on a raft. They are transferred to a schooner, but not before one is opened by the crew. Inside, they find soil and rats.

Under the long-distance influence of Orlok, Knock starts behaving oddly and is confined to a psychiatric ward. Later, Knock steals a newspaper, which tells of an outbreak of an unknown plague spreading down the coast of the Black Sea. Many people are dying, with odd marks on their necks. Knock rejoices.

The sailors on the ship get sick one by one; soon all but the captain and first mate are dead. Suspecting the truth, the first mate goes below to destroy the coffins. However, Orlok awakens and the horrified sailor jumps into the sea. Unaware of his danger, the captain becomes Orlok's latest victim.

When the ship arrives in Wisborg, Orlok leaves unobserved, carrying one of his coffins. (A passage in The Book of the Vampires reveals that the source of a vampire's power is the soil in which he was buried.) He moves into the house he purchased. The next morning, when the ship is inspected, the captain is found dead. After examining the logbook, the doctors assume they are dealing with the plague. The town is stricken with panic.

An iconic scene

Hutter returns home. Ellen reads The Book of Vampires, despite his injunction not to, and learns how to kill a vampire: a woman pure in heart must willingly give her blood to him, so that he loses track of time until the cock's first crowing.

There are many deaths in the town. The residents chase Knock, who has escaped after murdering the warden, mistaking him for a vampire.

Orlok stares from his window at the sleeping Ellen. She opens her window to invite him in, but faints. When Hutter revives her, she sends him to fetch Professor Bulwer. After he leaves, Orlok comes in. He becomes so engrossed drinking her blood, he forgets about the coming day. A rooster crows and Orlok vanishes in a bit of smoke as he tries to flee. Ellen lives just long enough to be embraced by her grief-stricken husband. The last image of the movie is of Orlok's castle in the Carpathian Mountains.

Cast

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Details

CastAlexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim, Max Schreck, Greta Schröder, John Gottowt
DirectorFriedrich Wilhelm (F.W.) Murnau
Genre:  Classics, Drama, Foreign, Horror
Release Date:  March 4, 1922
MPAA Rating:  Unrated
Screen WriterHenrik Galeen
DVD Release Date:  September 24, 2001
Runtime:  93 minutes
Studio:  Kino, Kino On Video, Kino International, Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Prana-Film
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review by . May 05, 2009
Albin Grau's Initial Poster
   -This review pertains to Kino On Video's Restored Authorized Edition DVD of Nosferatu-    Perhaps the greatest horror film of all time premiered on March 4, 1922 in Berlin. The film would become a classic of both the German cinematic movement of the '20s, as well as being the film that would launch the career of one of cinema's most talented directors, F.W. (Friedrich Wilhelm) Murnau. The film was Nosferatu - Eine Symphonie des Grauens (the title's translation …
Quick Tip by . February 05, 2010
Not the best available DVD of Nosferatu, but very likely the one with the coolest cover. Nice addition to any vampire fan's collection. ):-=
Related Topics
Nosferatu - Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Kino International's 2-disc The Ultimate DVD Edition)

Kino International's 2-disc DVD release of the classic silen

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