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Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu -- Eine Symphonie des Grauens)

F.W. Murnau's iconic silent horror film freely adapted from Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula".

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Haunting horror classic.

  • Oct 19, 2011
Rating:
+5
**** out of ****

The 1922 Gothic masterpiece of horror "Nosferatu" is a production of sweeping beauty and spectacle, lively performances and intense atmospheric touches, and pure directorial brilliance. It is fantastically well-crafted; a creepy, ominous horror movie; it feels real and authentic just about every moment when it wants to be. As a vampire film - and I'm sure you knew that it was one - it was influential to the many films that followed; many which attempted to imitate the film (and failed), while some of the further entries proved successful in what they took out of the film that essentially started a new generation of terror. This may just be one of the best horror films I have seen; scary, crafty, and unforgettable. Here you shall find images of horror, situations of horror, and the aftermath of horror. It is a film so good that - if we allow it to - it can make us paranoid and frightened for a good time afterwards. It's impossible not to admire that, since true horror makes us think about it both before and after the film has ended. And "Nosferatu" is without-a-doubt what I'd consider to fit the bill when it comes to being "true".

Using a simplistic but symbolic and meaningful story, the film is able to focus on how it affects our main senses; one of which is sight. The titular vampire of the story is a repulsive sight; a disgusting, hideous creature who resides in the darkness and is seldom discovered, and when someone does seek him and his evil ways out, he gets rid of them as fast and as soon as he possibly can. The story being told is based off of Bram Stoker's famous novel "Dracula", although names of characters were changed since the filmmakers could not get the rights to the book at the time. One such name is the word "vampire" itself, which as you can see, was changed to the film's title: Nosferatu.

Thomas Hutter is a happily married man with a nice life laid out for him, as it would appear. He is employed, and when his boss asks him to go visit a client in a faraway land, he is overjoyed and immediately sends himself to that place. The client's name is Count Orlok; and he resides in the Carpathian Mountains. Once he arrives, Hutter faces locals who fear Orlok is a man of danger and mystery; they urge him not to pay him a visit, but the hero must keep going and achieve the goal of meeting the client and ultimately selling him a house. He goes to Orlok's castle and meets the man, who doesn't exactly make the best of impressions when dinner comes around, but still proves himself to be quite the host indeed. Hutter rests at Orlok's castle for the night, and awakens slightly disoriented the next morning; a time in which he discovers things that he was never meant to see.

Such sights he sees; Orlok sleeping in a coffin, a bite-mark on his very own precious neck, and coffins being transported by-raft to a schooner. It becomes clear that Orlok is, indeed, a "nosferatu"; a blood sucker, a vampire. Whatever you wish to call him, either way, he has taken a bite out of Hutter, and in this particular tale, that means that perhaps the once great and happy man has lost his life over-night to someone far more skillful and cunning.

Orlok stows away on a ship back to Hutter's home-land in order to move in to the new home that he had purchased. While on the ship, many of the passengers begin to disappear through death; and since Orlok is able to make himself appear non-existent and invisible, the deaths are blamed on a plague caused by rats that have also hitched a ride on the vessel, much like Orlok. Before the remaining members of the crew can take further action, Orlok shows himself and controls the captain; taking charge of the ship for the time being, sailing it safely to shore, where he docks, and finally makes way to his house.

"Nosferatu" can be seen from multiple angles; in several different ways. On the surface, it is a masterpiece of Gothic atmosphere and horror; a film that I can gladly call "scary", whatever that means. However, there's always something deeper lurking beneath the surface, which elevates it from merely being a "good chiller" to a "great genre picture". Consider the fact that the paranoid citizens of the fictional German city of Wisbord (where the Count's new home resides) accuse Hutter's employer of being the sole cause of the plague and the misfortune that it has left in its past. They don't know what to think, and they really don't know who to blame, but hey: they saw him acting strange on occasion, and after all, he has recently been committed to a psychiatric hospital, so why not bring him to his end?

The film opens as it ends; a competent film, and even more, thus, even better. It has a wonderfully ghastly score, flawless and haunting cinematography, as well as some of the creepiest images every filmed. Orlok is played by Max Schrek, who plays the part delicately, even if our main fixation is the complex make-up that he wears. It's all so admirable, and there's a lot going on in "Nosferatu", so I don't want to spoil it. I have said enough; and I will recap my main points yet again. I loved every moment of this silent horror classic; which shall soon have a spot within my collection of iconic landmarks in horror cinema. It is definitive of why I love and trust this genre so much even in days as dark as this. Films such as "Nosferatu" serve as light in such eternal darkness. And we all need a little bit of light; there's no denying that.

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October 26, 2011
Great review. See the Kino version, it's clean and the original music was re-scored, I believe.
 
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More Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horro... reviews
review by . May 17, 2009
Nosferatu is one of the first vampire movies ever made. It also was an unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Stoker's widow sued the film-makers and won a huge settlement and the court ordered the film to be destroyed. But this film has survived that ordeal and the test of time to become one of the greatest horror films. Unlike the novel Dracula, this movie his highly entertaining and not sleep inducing. Max Schreck makes a scary vampire and F.W. Murnau has created an utter masterpiece. …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie

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Details

Genre: Classics, Drama, Foreign, Horror
Release Date: March 4, 1922
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Henrik Galeen
Runtime: 94 minutes
Studio: Prana-Film, Image Entertainment, Kino International, Kino On Video
First to Review

"Truly terrifying"
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