Image provided by fanpop.com, trailer courtesy of youtube.com
Although some consider Nosferatu cheesy and possess poor acting, those same people forget that the film was made in 1922. In the 90 years since its creation there has been over 40 variations of the “Dracula” story. Only a few of those, including the 1931 Bela Lugosi version and the 1992 Gary Oldman version, have been a decent enough film. All the others, such as Dracula 2000 (starring the oddly cast Gerard Butler) have been rendered unwatchable.
Like beating a dead horse, Dracula is now considered laughing-stock in the film industry. Nosferatu, on the other hand, revolutionized the horror genre.
Using the technique of German expressionism; dark heavy shadowing, sepia and blue tints to differentiate between day and night and the use of strange angling. With these combined techniques, the film has managed to be scarier than any of the other shoddy attempts to translate Bram Stoker’s classic novel.
At first I thought the silent principle would rid the film of its scare factor, but it only seemed to heighten it. Many scary films today water down the factor with useless dialogue that only sidetrack the audience. Nosferatu is direct and to the point, containing short scenes rendering it impossible to lose track.
Similar to a laugh track in one of the numerous sitcoms, Nosferatu uses a heavy percussion based score to scare the audience, combined dark, eerie angles. Most horror films heavily animated techniques, and if done cheaply will destroy the entire film. The idea of a green screen in 1922 was a mere twinkle in the sky. Instead, they used clever techniques done with a camera instead of a computer. One criticism I have deals with the score; although the percussion and heavy drumming gets your heartbeat going, I prefer the string staccato effect that was present in the 1931 “Dracula” starring Bella Lugosi.
Instead of being titled Dracula, director F.W. Murnau was decline the rights to use Bram Stokers title. Declined by Stokers widow who felt her late spouses work was being blemished, Murnau picked the even better title, Nosferatu. Being a more mysterious title, not many people know that this is the original “Dracula” film.
Starring the German actor Max Schreck as the daytime Count Graf Orlok and the nighttime Nosferatu, we see the true anguish he causes the German estate knock agent, Hutter. Played by Gustav von Wangenheim, Hutter is dispatched to Orlok’s castle in Transylvania. The count wishes to buy a smaller house in Wisbourg, Germany and As Hutter set out on his unusual journey, he leaves his wife Ellen with some friends. Being innocent and overall helpless, Ellen does not take the trip very well.
As Hutter arrives in the Transylvania town which is home to Orlok’s castle, he is urged not to enter. Going against the town folks advice, he meets with Orlok. Getting the unusual feel that he both constantly being watched by Orlok and the fact that something is different about Orlok, he disregards his gut feelings. Eventually coming to his senses when he stumbles upon Orlok sleeping in a coffin, he realizes that he is a prisoners in the Transylvanian sarcophagus. The rest of the film shows the terror Nosferatu unleashes on the people of Germany and Transylvania.