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Max Schreck IS "Nosferatu"
jhclues18 March 2001
In 1921, director F.W. Murnau set out to make a horror film based on Bram Stoker's novel, `Dracula,' but was denied the rights to the property by Stoker's estate. Undeterred, however, Murnau merely changed the title to `Nosferatu,' the name of the title character to `Count Orlok,' then proceeded to make what has come to be considered nothing less than a classic of the silent film era. An unsettling film (especially for the times in which it was made), it is a faithful adaptation of Stoker's story, and brings images to the screen, the likes of which at the time, had never before been seen. And although by today's standards much of it may seem relatively tame, there is an innate sense of the sinister about it that is timeless. For the same elements that so unnerved audiences in 1922 when it was released, are equally discomfiting now, most of which is courtesy of Max Schreck, who portrayed Count Orlok. It was the first screen appearance for what is now the most famous vampire in history, and the German character actor Schreck brought an eerie presence to the role that has never been equaled. Bela Lugosi may be considered the definitive Dracula-- his portrayal is certainly the most well known-- but even he could not match the sense of evil that Schreck brought to the character. The scene in which Schreck's shadow is cast on the wall as he slowly negotiates a staircase, emphasizing his misshapen head and elongated fingers and nails, is an image that leaves an indelible impression on the memory, as does Schreck's overall appearance: Lanky, though slightly stooped, with oversized, pointed ears and haunted, sunken eyes. It was Schreck's greatest screen role, and had it not been for a lawsuit by Stoker's estate that prevented wide distribution of the film, it would no doubt have made him a star. The supporting cast includes John gottowt, Alexander Granach, Wolfgang Heinz, Max Nemetz, Gustav von Wangenheim, Ruth Landshoff and Greta Schroder. An air of mystery surrounded the set during the filming of `Nosferatu' that became something of a myth, which began with the fact that Schreck, a method actor, was never seen by cast nor crew without his makeup and in character. And it was further perpetuated when it may have been implied by Murnau that Schreck was actually a vampire playing an actor playing a vampire, all of which goes a long way toward proving that `hype' is nothing new to the entertainment industry. One of the three most highly regarded German directors of the times, Murnau, whose philosophy was that `nothing existed beyond the frame,' directed a number of films, but none achieved the lasting notoriety of `Nosferatu.' For film buffs everywhere, as well as aficionados of silent pictures, this film is a must-see, and a perfect companion piece to the recently released (2000) `Shadow of the Vampire,' the film by E. Elias Merhige that chronicles the making of `Nosferatu.' A comparatively short film-- the restored DVD version runs 81 minutes, the video, 63 minutes-- it will nevertheless provide an entertaining and memorable cinematic experience. This is an example of not only the magic, but the magic at the very core of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.
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A Symphony of Horrors
FilmDog-114 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
They don't make films like this faded, haunting masterpiece of silent cinema anymore.

When Dracula was first put on sale for movie rights; the one of the first men to grab it was F.W.Murnau one of the most of the famous German directors of his time. By the time word got back to them about using the rights of the name and storyline of Dracula (Owned by the rights of Florence's widow.) Murnau had alread started production on the film; so to get around it they cut out the name 'Dracula' and replaced it with Count Orlok, Jonathan Harker became Hutter and Ban Helsing became Professor Bulwer; Orlock stalks the gothic streets of Bremen instead of Vistorian London.

What is so different from Nosferatu and many of the others films of the time was that most of the film was shot on actually locations around Eastern Europe; the production hardly used any studio sets. What makes the most haunting feature tho is the sense of realism and the expressionism (most evident in the interiors od Orlok's Castle) that gives the film its hypnotic visual power.

If there is any film a film student would need to have in his/her collection, it's this film. Although it is a hard task to find any surving copies. The reason for this is when the film was released Florence Stoker (widow of the author of Dracula) noticed the comparsion; she pursued the case relentlessly and in July 1925 a German court ordered all prints of the film to be destroyed. Luckily for us several prints of the film survived; a few in which have still been lost over the last few 8 decades.

But thanks to the 2000 release of 'Shadow of a Vampire' a film which looks behind the filming of Nosferatu and starring John Malkovich (F.W.Murnau) and Willem Dafoe (Count Orlok) the film was released for the first time on DVD in it's full original length of 94 minutes.

Sadly soon after the film hit America in 1929; at the age of 43; Murnau was killed in a car crash.

"Men must die. Nosferatu does not die!" proclaimed the original publcity for the film. We can only hope it's the truth for this film.
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One of my two favorites
Patsy-921 May 1999
Quite possibly my own very favourite movie. No vampire film before or since has been either as disturbing or as artful. Less overtly "expressionistic" than some of the other German films of the day, but no less visually impressive. Look at the seascape where Ellen/Nina/Mina pines over her departed husband. Watch those marvelous shadows, which we see in Bremen more often than the vampire itself, used especially effectively in the closing sequence.

And look at Max Schreck himself! While Bram Stoker gave his Count affinity with wolves and bats, Murnau favours that rat, both in that they surround him and that he physically resembles a shaved, cadaverous rat. Spreading his pestilence, Max Schreck is truly the vilest, most loathsome villain in the history of film. The scene where he rises suddenly erect from his coffin aboard ship is one that horror directors everywhere should study very carefully.

Nosferatu is also noteworthy as the origin of the idea that vampires are killed by sunlight, previously present neither in literature nor folklore. In response to the poster who complained that the vampire seems to be walking around in light before his death, these scenes are set at night. In the original versions, there was a blue tint over these scenes to let you tell night from day; it's difficult to tell the difference without them.

My copy is marred with some hilarious inappropriate sound effects (such as a massive "BOING" when the gates of the castle open on their own accord) which I've learned not to hold against the film itself.

Thank God that Florence Stoker did not manage to completely wipe this film of the face of existence.
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A Distinctive & Memorable Version of the 'Dracula' Legend
Snow Leopard1 September 2004
F.W. Murnau's version of the 'Dracula' legend still remains as distinctive and memorable as ever. The enjoyable Bela Lugosi version is perhaps easier to watch, and strictly as light entertainment it might work better, and many later versions brought their own interpretations - but nothing matches "Nosferatu" for its engrossingly morbid atmosphere and its unusual interpretation of the main character.

Max Schreck and Murnau were able to create an image of the vampire that remains in your mind long after seeing it. Regardless of whether it or some other conception is closest to the 'true' Dracula (if such a thing even exists), it is quite effective, and it was particularly well-conceived for a silent screen version that cannot rely on dialogue to define a character. The settings and the story perfectly complement Schreck's weird character, creating an atmosphere full of constant strangeness, uncertainty, and foreboding.

It's unnecessary (and probably impossible) to make detailed comparisons among all the film versions of the Dracula character and legend. "Nosferatu" stands perfectly well on its own, as a unique and skillfully done adaptation of the story, and as one of the memorable classics of the silent era.
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My conception of the vampire made celluloid...
keihan23 March 2000
I despise most vampire stories. Not even Florence Stoker's dear departed husband could keep me occupied after the first act in Transylvania in "Dracula". The vampire has been so romanticized as an archetype (particularly during the '90s) that I can't but feel that most horror fans have forgotten exactly what made us afraid of these guys to begin with. Murnau's "Nosferatu" is just such a reminder and, because of that, is the only screen version of "Dracula" that I have ever loved.

Though Murnau, in the hopes of dodging the copyright bullet, took many liberties with the novel, he actually shot a great part of the film on location (an unusual practice for the time) in the historical Dracula's old stomping grounds: the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. The town, landscapes, and castles were all for real, not just some fancy studio backdrop. To me, it helps convey the tone of authenticity, as you can believe this story being told. As for Max Schreck, no charming, suave seducer is he. With his bald head, bushy eyebrows, rat-like teeth, pointed ears, nails as long as the fingers they are attached to, emaciated build, and stare that seems to come from the bottom of Hell itself, he is the primal, archetypal image of the vampire of legend.

While some could interpret this tale as a subtext to Nazism or anti-Semetism, at it's core, it's simply the tale of a monster, who brings ruin and death in his wake. That such a tale has managed to survive it's era, considering the obstacles that could have totally removed it from view, is the gain of all who have seen. Eat your heart out, Bela Lugosi.
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superb silent Dracula
didi-53 May 2004
For copyright reasons, Bram Stoker's novel was filmed with the names of the characters changed (Orlok for Dracula, for example) but otherwise the story remains the same: a young man goes on a trip to see a mysterious count in order to sell a house, leaving his bride behind, and finds that the creature he meets is not of this world.

As the extremely creepy Orlok, Max Schreck is brilliant, with his long fingernails and gaunt appearance. A triumph in early cinematic make-up. Gustav von Wangenheim portrays the confusion of the victim well, as does Greta Schroder as his wife. FW Murnau directed the film with flair, showing us not only shadowed vistas and abandoned castles, but the nature outside (foxes) and miniature worlds evolving under a microscope. This film sits well with his later 'Sunrise' in showing the effect of outside forces on a young couple, as well as being one of the key early horrors in its portrayal of Stoker's anti-hero.

This version of the Dracula tale remains one of the best, although all have some different perspective on the novel. On the strength of 'Nosferatu' alone, Murnau deserves his place as a true innovator of silent cinema.
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a truly original Vampire film- a tale of the Gothic legend in Murnau's masterpiece
Quinoa198425 April 2000
Nosferatu is a great horror movie (possibly the first ever according to some accounts), and one of the pinnacles of the German silent era of film-making. Made in the silent age by the German expressionist/auteur FW Murnau, the film has the genuine power to act creepy, odd, alluring, mythic, and beautiful by way of images and music that don't leave your mind once the film is over. It's like someone collected a stash of nightmares and pulled them together with the original Bram Stoker story of Dracula. Max Shreck, in his most notorious role (and apparently the only one really anyone's bothered to see) plays the monstrous Count Orlock, a vampire who comes out at night to tempt the living and, of course, to suck blood. Though this story of Dracula has been numerously repeated (even by the Hollywood version in the early 30s), this film is one of the prime examples of how horror SHOULD be done- dispense with cheap thrills or overloading with exposition.

A director like Murnau here, who had total artistic control (abeit the film not in circulation for many years), could transform Orlock's world into one of acute, deliberate angles, long deep shadows, and painting with light like some mad artist from the dark ages. One could almost claim that this, alongside Night of the Living Dead, changed the way audiences looked at horror films, that a style and presence could be wrung from characters that bring out the worst fears and dread in common people. Years from now, long into the digital age, there may still be room for of all things a silent, non-talking effort like Nosferatu, where the terror can still be felt through the black and white (sometimes tinted) photography and stark physical performances by Schrek and the others. In short, a film like this is one of the reasons I love to watch horror movies.
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Still remains one of the most visually harrowing movies of all time
Smells_Like_Cheese16 November 2003
I want you to go back, way back, before CGI effects, box office predictions, acid trip movies, black and white, even sound, we had silent films. We've of course remember them, but how many of us have really seen one? I happen to love them though, my film appreciation class made me run out and get as many silent films as possible, one of the most memorable silent films of all time is Nosferatu. A film that still to this day remains one of the most harrowing movies of all time. Say what you will about how far special effects have come into today's movies, but the silent film really made this movie into the true horror story that has memorable images and still gives me nightmares.

Thomas Hutter is an employee at a real estate firm in a city called Wisborg, living with Ellen, his wife. His employer, Knock, receives a mysterious letter. Knock decides to send him to visit Count Orlok in the Carpathian Mountains to finalize the sale of a house. Hutter leaves his wife with his good friend Harding, and Harding's sister Ruth, before embarking on his multiple-month journey. He goes on the trip and he is soon picked up by Count Orlok's coach, which is driven by a strange specter that hides its face, and moves at an unnatural speed. At his arrival at the castle, whose doors open by themselves, he is welcomed by Count Orlok. His grotesque facial features hidden at this stage by his hat, Orlok initially appears to be a mere eccentric gentleman. Hutter has dinner at the castle; Orlok refuses to eat and silently reads a letter. A bell rings at midnight and a startled Hutter cuts his thumb. Count Orlok tries to suck the blood out of the wound, but stops at Hutter's horror, who then falls asleep in the parlor after a conversation with Orlok. Hutter wakes up to an empty castle with fresh wounds on his neck, he's oh so doomed at this point.

The very first vampire movie of all time, when F.W. Murnau couldn't get the rights to Dracula, he created actually one of the most memorable horror movies of all time. Seriously, if you have never seen this movie, try to find it, and if you dare say that the image of Orlok waking up and rising out of his coffin doesn't scare the ever loving daylight out of you, I'm going to go all Clockwork Orange on you, tape you to a chair put toothpicks in your eye lids to keep them open and you're going to watch this in the dark. This movie is a true classic and will always remain one of the scariest movies I have ever seen.

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"Is that your wife? What a lovely throat!"
Coventry18 March 2005
As I'm sure it is the case for many cinema fans, my respect and admiration towards this production widely excels the enjoyment I had while watching it. "Nosferatu" is a milestone from every possible viewpoint and it's one of those very few movies I think everybody should view at least once (although it actually requires repeated viewings…) It is the very first version of Bram Stoker's legendary vampire tale and easily the most copied film in the history of cinema. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the story of young estate agent Jonathan Harker traveling to Transylvania where he acquaintances the eccentric count who feeds on blood and controls the ones he has bitten, but THIS is the original version. Shot by F.W. Murnau (who also made the equally essential titles "Faust" and "Der Januskopf") and made unforgettable by Max Schreck in his performance as the Count. And, even though this film is over 80 years old, Schreck's image is still as nightmarish as it can be. No visual or make-up effect could ever surpass the simple appearance of Max Schreck! The fact that this film is still very powerful therefore almost entirely depends on his unworldly character. "Nosferatu" is beautiful poetry, difficult to watch at times, but very rewarding. The sexual undertones as well as the shock-aspects have surely dated by now, but they're still present, and – as I mentioned before – they only increase my respect for Murnau and his crew. A definite must see, just make sure you're in the right mood.
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Good mixture of suspense and action
gagewyn20 February 2000
I watched the Kartes Video Communications 1984 video cassette version on a 15 inch screen. Titles were in English. Film quality was good. Sound was matched to action. Cropping appeared good, and titles were completely visible. This should give an idea of the technical quality of the release I watched.

Nosferatu is one of the few silent movies with a significant following today. It deserves a following. The film is a suspense piece. Still it is paced nicely so that it feels tense in the right places but never goes long enough without something happening so as to be boring.

Visually Nosferatu forms the precedent for the vampire in movies. The main difference is that Count Nosferatu has more affinity with rat than bat. Aside from this the main stream image of the vampire is based heavily on Nosferatu. This film has been as influential on modern vampire mythology as the novel Dracula. It is based on the novel Dracula. Especially disturbing to me personally are NosferatuÕs twisted hands.

In terms of the filmÕs being silent, this should not put anyone off. The suspense/ horror genre fits well into this medium. I was lucky enough to see a version with music matched to the scenes, but if the copy you are watching has a bad sound track just play some music you like.

I recommend this film to anyone interested in the horror or suspense films. It is a bit of a cult film, but this does not keep it from being actually good.
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One of the great celebrations/critiques of cinema.
the red duchess22 March 2001
'Nosferatu' opens with a man looking at his reflection in a mirror. Besides its symbolic significance, this is a perfect distillation of his character, that of a vain, narcissistic, absurdly self-confident to the point of machismo, married man largely indifferent to a wife he abruptly leaves to make the fortune worthy of a man of his merits. He ain't afraid of no ghosts, nor robbers. So, the image he sees in that mirror is one of wholeness, perfection - I am Hutter, I command all I see, my unity of identity is linked to my power in body.

To the viewer, however, the effect is the precise opposite. The framing of the scene is fragmented, with the outer frame, the window and the mirror; Hutter himself is doubled - the 'real' Hutter and his reflection, or shadow. All the assumptions smilingly embodied in Hutter will thus be destroyed in conventional horror terms.

His whole identity will be destroyed - the Count will suck his blood and in effect become him, if we believe the man who claims 'blood is life'. Hutter's body will first become passive, feminised as he is violated by the Count; after, he will no longer be a body, but a shadow, bloodless - literally, he shadows the Count as the latter comes to England; and symbolically, in that two men now claim possession of Hutter's wife, and both have equal claim, both being Hutter.

Murnau is careful to give his horror story a genuine patina as an 'objective' story: no horror film has come as close to capturing the visual essence of all those stories that have circulated in Europe for centuries, the twisting medieval towns, the arcane religious symbolism, the plagues and mass hysteria, the crumbling castles and storm-tossed ships, the creak of wood - the look of the film feels like a crumpling manuscript setting out the story.

But the film is also the portrait of a marriage. The opening sequence chillingly reveals the sterility of a marriage before anyone has even heard of the Count - Hutter wrapped up in himself; Ellen, hypersensitive, morbid, dressed as if in mourning; the union childless; the couple, above all, separate, each completely misunderstanding the other.

The image of the mirror is repeated throughout the film, connecting Hutter to the Count - the scene in Knock's office where Hutter looks at the map of Transylvania just as he did his mirror; the Count's house directly opposite Hutter's, a decaying edifice that looks like a melting, anguished face.

But Ellen is linked to the Count too, her somnolent rising mirroring his. This isn't a conventional opposition between bourgeois and bestial urges, even though the Count is given the most grotesque (anti-Semitic?) animal features, and even though Murnau never lets us forget the Conut as emanation of the Hutters' dreams, desires and fears - Hutter reads that he will shadow his dreams; Ellen spends most of the film sleepwalking.

All three elements of this triangle, which symbolises the one relationship, is linked to death - the Count, the undead, living in coffins of dead earth; Hutter, narcissistic, onanistic, his lifeblood siphoned from him; Ellen, the Venus fly-trap, self-abnegating destroyer of the destroying force. Hutter ends the film as he began, alone, his lust for money and status destroying the union that crowned it. The contrivance of society and respectability is swept away by the malaise of nature, those gendered forests, tides and moons, as if the Count and Ellen are part of the one female nature Hutter cannot accomodate.

Such Freudiana is undermined in the film in two ways - in the disarming comedy of the piece, the Count often seeming to have strayed from a silent comedy, running around London with his coffin; and by a self-reflexive examination of film, that sees the warning about vampires in the book Hutter reads linked to bestiality and the eye that is so important in the film; the turning of the film stock into negative as Hutter enters the Count's realm; the trickery, such as time lapse and fast motion, that shows the Count's mastery of time and space, but, more importantly, Murnau's mastery over the storytelling, already indicated by an unseen, but constantly intruding narrator; even Ellen's couch, which, my husband suggests , seems patterned as strips of film. In a movie where human sexuality is impossible, the characters seem content to be voyeurs, like the film audience, staving off the death, the loss of identity, or at least its fragmentation, that contact with another person entails.
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A symphony of horror indeed
ironhorse_iv18 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
1922 was when vampires were vampires not horny emotional teenagers with big teeth unlike Twilight. Nosferatu was directed by F.W. Murnau and starting Max Schreck as the Count Orlok. It's a chilling and eerie adaption of Stoker's Dracula, following the same plot somewhat and ever since it has first came to the screens in 1922, it has become a silent masterpiece of terror which to this day is the most striking and frightening portrayal of the legend. The old grainy black and white footage, and low frames per second recording somehow add to the creepiness of this film. Since it's public domain though, there have been several different re-releases over the years, a lot of which have music and voice overs that just seems out of place. It's hard to decide, when there is so many version of the film. There is a version where the music by Type O Negative…somewhere. Some of the campy music; there are moments when the tension of the music doesn't even fit what's happening on the screen. It's sad to watch. The original music was more Gothic in nature and better fit the feel for the movie. The music was originally composed by Hans Erdmann but the score was never recorded. This song is by far the greatest soundtrack to this movie! All the re-mastered versions suck! Not only did the remastered versions mess up the score, but also the picture by making it gold and blue. One problem in the film, is you can't really tell the different between night and day in this film… so it's better to have it black and white for the picture. W. Murnau originally filmed Nosferatu in a color tinted version not black and white, for instance Murnau shot the night scenes in a blue tint and the day ones in a gold tint which really works at the end of film with the rising of the sun. The Kino DVD of Nosferatu is really beautiful. It's amazing how great actors had to be, by telling the story by body expressing. Max Schreck acting in Nosferatu is chilling. The Orlok make-up is so timeless. He doesn't close his eyes at any time during the film, which I find rather creepy. He was an eccentric who took his parts so seriously he remained in character during the entire shoot. Max was already known for his quirky and often seen as weird or obscure habits. He was a loner who enjoyed playing grotesque characters and mainly lived in his own world. It's a trait that adds to Schreck's macabre appearance. The other actors acting are somewhat slow and awkward. Gustav v. Wangenheim is just awful as Hutter. Makes you appreciate this classic! Interesting thing is that the name credits in this B&W film at the beginning are a bit off because Murnau didn't use any of the character's names from the original Stoker novel when he filmed Nosferatu so Bram Stoker's widow wouldn't sue him and his company, (she did though) which is why in the original German titles you have names like 'Graff Orlock' instead of Count Dracula and 'Hutter' in place of Harker and 'Ellen' in place of Mina. Only very loosely based on Bram Stoker's novel, which, I guess would have been too complex to make a film of without dialogue - and is probably over-complex anyway. It's better than Dracula somewhat. Thank goodness that the widow of Bram Stoker couldn't burn all the film due to the suing of Nosferatu. We are lucky to see this film due to that. True horror enters the soul and disturbs us, like a insecure feeling of helplessness. This film holds those emotions after all these years, it still frightens many people.
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This Is Definitely Not Hollywood
worldsofdarkblue12 May 2006
When the American industry got around to making it's vampire entry they must have felt that U.S. audiences needed their monster to be softened. What a difference between the two interpretations!

While Hollywood was smart enough to cast an east Europe type (Lugosi) they lessened the dread factor considerably by dressing him up in formalwear and giving him no real teeth to speak of. Orlock has teeth and they look very, very sharp indeed. The hollywoodized Dracula looks less like a monster and more like a romantic leading man when contrasted to the Orlock character of this German film. No one will ever attach 'romantic' to their description of Count Orlock.

Where Lugosi would attempt to convey his brand of menace by means of a penetrating, hypnotic stare and holding up his fingers, Shreck has no need of such staginess. Where 'Dracula' (1931) has fake, vaguely European sets, 'Nosferatu' (1922) is truly Europe. In it's silence Nosferatu feels more ominous than does Dracula, what with his slow, deep-voiced, stilted speech which seems contrived and even unintentionally funny at times (how often have comedians utilized it since?) And wolves and bats are far less creepy (almost noble by comparison) than are rats and spiders. Nothing noble about rats.

I didn't set out to write a disparaging review of 'Dracula'. I've loved the Lugosi version since childhood, but when I saw 'Nosferatu' many years after numerous viewings of the Universal series I realized very quickly that the fear factor of 'Nosferatu' was leagues ahead of the American version, and frankly, I was initially dumbstruck by this fact. I would never have guessed that a silent-era horror film could be so much more striking than the films made over the next five decades!

Whereas Hollywood gave us a fun, not very scary, but deservedly much loved movie classic, F.W. Murnau has given us a fascinating, visionary masterpiece of horror cinema. Students of film art will likely explore 'Nosferatu' more than once.
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Silent classic with the unforgettable rodent face Max Schrenk as the most horrifying of all screen vampires
ma-cortes16 October 2011
This expressionist German milestone called Nosferatu-Eine Symphonie Des Grauens -Nosferatu a Symphony of Horror- turns out to be a hit in the history of world cinema and especially in terror cinema . It deals with newlyweds named Jonathan and Lucy Harker who are saddened when Harker is sent to Transylvania by employer Renfield to arrange for Count Dracula's purchase of a house across the street from the Harkers' house. Harker travels to Transylvania where he stays with the Count , is sucked by the Count, and eventually escapes from the castle. Jonathan returns to Lucy but spends all his time sitting on a chair in the living room. Nosferatu moves into the house across from the Harkers' and goes to Bremen in a ship called Demeter . The rise in deaths is accredited to a plague thought to have arrived with the Demeter. Only a woman can break his frightfull spell , a woman pure in heart who offer her blood freely to Nosferatu and will keep the vampire by his side until the cook crowed . As the vampire meets his doom when Lucy manages to keep him until after cockcrow.

This German all time classic silent horror-movie from 1922 is a captivating and eerie experience with creepy images , imaginative sets and exciting touches . Max Schreck is perfect as Nosferatu with his rat face, long nails , pointed ears and skeletal frame . The story brilliantly conveys the loneliness , despair sadness of the characters .The landscape is moody and lovely and the sets are gorgeous as well as creepy , especially the phantom castle of The Count , the ship and Bremen town . The slow, somewhat exaggerated reactions of his characters brilliantly echo the performances given by the silent actors . One day, the great Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau was talking with Max Reinhardt. Reinhardt introduced Schreck to Murnau. Murnau saw talent in Schreck and hired him to play Graf (Count) Orlok in the fledgling Prana Film's first production, "Nosferatu; Eine Symphonie Des Grauens" -Nosferatu; A Symphony Of Horror- .The regards to Max Schreck are a mystery, he made a few pictures and we don't know anything about his life. His performance as the bald, bat-eared, close fanged Orlok remains one of the most frightening film characters in history . This brilliantly eerie motion picture is originally and compellingly directed by F.W. Murnau .

This vampire masterpiece is remade in 1979 titled ¨Nosferatu the Vampyre¨ by Werner Herzog with Klaus Kinski ,Bruno Ganz and Isabelle Adjnani in which Count Dracula is the victim , he does not enjoy his immortality and wants only to live, love and die like a human ,this version of Nosferatu, in places almost a frame for frame remake , it results to be an enjoyable homage . Followed by ¨Nosferatu in Venice¨ by Augusto Caminito and Mario Caiano with Christopher Plummer , Donald Pleasence and also with Klaus Kinski . Furthermore ¨Shadow of the Vampire¨ with Willem Defoe and John Malkovich ; it is a film about the making and production of Nosferatu ; it had to deal with a lot of strange things ,some crew members disappeared, some died, this movie focuses on the difficult relationship between Murnau, the director, and Schreck, the lead actor.
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Dracula masterpiece of the silent screen.
michaelRokeefe15 October 2001
F.W. Murnau directs this unauthorized version of Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula. NOSFERATU is arguably the earliest surviving screen version depicting the 'Prince of Darkness'. This German production deviates slightly from the original, but the now familiar story we all know by heart is intact. Count Dracula becomes Count Orlok and journeys to Bremen, Germany instead of London. His physical appearance is not dashing, mesmerizing or even mystical; but much resembles the rats that frequently accompany him. I find this the most eerie of all that would follow. The accompanying organ music background makes this scratchy black and white silent film an essential masterpiece. Max Schreck is immortal as Nosferatu/Count Orlok.
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A chilly experience...Max Schreck makes a great vampire...
Doylenf16 March 2009
I gave this a late night viewing and perhaps being tired made full concentration difficult, but this was not an easy film to evaluate in light of it being a silent film made in Germany in 1922 by Murnau.

The overall impression is one of familiarity with the "Dracula" theme, the young man being driven by a coach that will only go so far toward its destination before he has to get out and walk. (This has happened in so many horror stories that we can see it all began with stories like "Dracula" on which this is based). GUSTAV VON WANGENHEIM is the young man and he overacts with gusto in typical silent film manner. GRETA SCHRODER is his wife, Ellen, who seems to have an unusually strong link to Count Orlock's menacing presence. She's the woman whose portrait he is shown, upon which he makes the film's most famous remark: "What a lovely throat!" It's all very impressionistic, with dark shadows particularly menacing when they show Count Orlock's grotesque form (including his long fingernails) as he looks for victims. Some of the plot elements seem a little obscure which may be a fault of the title cards.

Very impressive was the musical score from 1997 by James Bernard which had the appropriately eerie effect that caught the mood of the piece with its somber atmosphere.

Damp and chilly are the words that come to mind when I think of this film and its overall effect. I can certainly see why it has the reputation it has as a classic horror film with allowances being made for the style of acting that was anything but subtle by today's standards. Worth a look, but not a film I'm likely to view again.
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Erratic but good
Jamie-5811 October 2000
Okay, it was rude of the film makers not to consult Florence Stoker about the use of her late husband's book to make this film. She was entirely within her rights to have the whole thing consigned to the flames, though even a cursory look at the worst prints in circulation reveal what posterity would have lost had she succeeded. At its best this is an extraordinary achievement, and its a pity that its many fine qualities went largely unappreciated in 1922 - and for some time thereafter.

However there is no point getting bogged down in false veneration. Nosferatu has some glaring flaws which reduce its status from the towering masterpiece it is purported to be. The cinematography is often crude, even by 1922 standards. The script robs Stoker's story of its grandeur and blatant eroticism - there is a brief nod to the latter only in the final scenes. In place of sex the director has placed pestilence, which may or may not be an asset, depending upon your stance. Of much of the acting, well, the less said the better, and some of the special effects are frankly risible. Compare the journey from the Borgo Pass to that in Tod Browning's Dracula, made only nine years later, to see how inept parts of Nosferatu can be.

On the plus side one has to applaud a film that maintains its terror and stark imagery almost eighty years after its release. At its best Nosferatu is that rare creature, a truly frightening and disturbing horror epic. It is a triumph of design, and the attention to detail is overwhelmingly impressive. Max Schreck manages to deliver a performance that is aided and abetted by makeup, but whose real impact derives from its sinister restraint.

A mixed bag, then, something it has in common with its 1931 Hollywood remake. I know I swim against the critical tide when I say I prefer the latter, but that is not to deny the power of this film.
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uber Vampire, ultra Dracula, before the glamorizing of the legend!
secondtake19 January 2011
Nosferatu (1922)

You can't look at a movie as interesting, original, and yet technically dated as "Nosferatu" the same way you would a new movie, or a Hollywood classic. Murnau's truly great horror film comes a full decade before the famous "Dracula" that copied so much from, and it has to be seen on its own terms, in the thick of the German silent era. Even as a silent film it is five years from the stylish peak of the genre, and so there is a creakiness to some of the techniques (the edits, the iris effects, and so on) that come with the territory.

But it's never slow, and in many ways is much more together and sophisticated than Tod Browning's 1931 version, which of course has at least the addition of sound and of Bela Lugosi, the new star, to make it legendary. Here there are a lot of details in scenes not bothered with in later versions, as in the journey on the ship to England, which is one of the most beautiful parts of the movie, or scenes of the countryside which set a place more than a mood.

Of course, the two movies are more similar than different, with the basic vampire legend intact--sucking the blood from the necks of beautiful young women, for starters, and needing to avoid sunlight. The expressionist light is wonderful even if it's just showing a swarm of rats. The camera-work is gorgeous, even when static, and when it moves (as on the ship) it's elegant and modern. There is an overuse of the iris vignetting effect for our tastes, no doubt, giving the scenes a constraining feeling rather than a limitlessness that even Browning manages to achieve, and of course Coppola and Herzog do much differently in their recent versions. In fact, see all four. There are others, but these are the famous ones, not including the miserable but campy Warhol vampire film, and the rather different Dreyer 1932 version called "Vampyr," and then some offshoots that are sometimes terrific, but which are not really based on the same story line at all.

It's odd to talk about a vampire movie and not mention the main actor, the vampire player, in this case Max Schreck, but in fact he has no meaning for American audiences. The director, F.W. Murnau, is another story, with a stellar brief career including the Hollywood masterpiece, "Sunrise," which won the first best picture Oscar ever. For that reason alone I'd give this fun, slightly spooky vampire flick a good late night look.
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clammy and creepy
mcfloodhorse21 March 2006
Although at a rather quick 90 minutes, experiencing 'Nosferatu' seems as surreal in its semi-illogical disjointedness as an early Bunuel film and not unlike a dark and dreary drinking binge; one recalls only certain sequences of the narrative, punctuated by large gaps in time and in the association of events/characters. This doesn't necessarily detract from the overall enjoyment of the film, but rather adds to its eternal strangeness.

Hans Erdmann's (?) original score is at once darkly foreboding and highly hypnotic -- like Count Orlok himself -- with its haunting phrases unfolding and folding back on themselves like a spiral. Orlok similarly comes out of the darkness to glide through walls or up stairs and then, receding from light and recoiling his claws, he inexplicably vanishes from sight (and from script) for minutes on end....only to re-emerge from within his coffin in one of the film's most infamous images.

Orlock's insatiable lust for young blood gives the film an erotic charge otherwise repressed in the waking lives of the "human" characters of Jonathon and Nina (surfacing only slightly in Nina's somnambulism).

The two most amusing moments in the film also depend on the "non-human" characters of sickly Renfield and his master, the Count. Renfield escapes from his prison cell pursued by a large mob of locals and, fleeing to a rooftop, starts throwing stones at the angry Volk while wearing the mischievous grin of a child. The Count, meanwhile, adds an element of surrealism as he does a skinny-legged shuffle through town with his own coffin in tow. Still quite creepy and darkly comical after all these years.
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Nothing Much, Just Another Pretty Face
ccthemovieman-129 May 2006
I was a bit disappointed in this. I had seen a few of visuals that are sometimes shown because "Count Orlok" is so bizarre-looking, so I finally decided to check this famous German silent film out and see what all the fuss was about. Well, it was much ado about nothing, frankly.

Yes, Max Schreck as the Orlok-Dracula was fascinating to view. No one has ever quite duplicated his strange facial features in over 80 years of film-making, makeup or no makeup. That was worth some of the price of the rental, but the story wasn't. It just dragged too much and the other characters weren't much.

I did learn a few things, however, about Bram Stoker's Dracula tale that I don't believe I have heard in other Dracula movies, such as how many and why coffins of dirt accompanied the Dracula on his voyage. That, and a few other tidbits, were interesting, as were the different colored tints on the some of the scenes.

But, story-wise, it's a bit too dated and too slow for today's tastes, I'm afraid. Also, 84 minutes of a fairly-strong pounding of organ music can get to be a little much. Silent film purists will not like that last statement, as they seem to revere these scores, but, hey, all I can say is: "bite me!"
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skybrick7368 August 2014
F.W. Murnau set the bar high for vampire movies, very high. Can not help but start praising the job Max Schreck and Murnau did to bring Count Orlok character to life on the screen. Orlok's face, hands and slender build along with his sly shuffling movements with the right camera angles and props brought a hell of a lot of general creepiness. The viewers in the twenties must have been shell shocked because they didn't tame it down which they most often did in this time period. For a full length silent feature film I found the time going fairly fast with a view dragged out scenes, that can be expected. The big bugaboo I have with Nosferatu though is the questionable ending being terribly anticlimactic. Regardless of the disappointing ending, Nosferatu is a killer film that is a must watch for horror or classic movie fans.
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"I Want To Suck Your Blood!"
xyzkozak26 April 2014
Meet the grand-daddy of all vampires in the grand-daddy of all vampire movies.

In the 92 years since Max Schreck played Count Orlok (Dracula) in Nosferatu, no other actor has yet even come close to matching the blood-chilling hideousness of his portrayal.

With his skeletal frame, rodent face, long nails and pointed ears, Schreck excels, beyond compare, as truly being the most repulsive and terrifying of all screen vampires.

Nosferatu is an exceptional product of the German Expressionistic era in film-making and is a real milestone in the history of cinematic horror.

This early, silent-version of Dracula is, at times, brilliantly eerie, and full of imaginative touches that none of the later vampire films managed to recapture.

Yes. Nosferatu is flawed, but it still does manage to hold up quite well, considering that it's nearly 100 years old.
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The mother of horror movies.
Boba_Fett113812 March 2004
This movie was really impressive and quite an experience to see. Who would have ever known that a silent movie would still be so powerful now days.

The power of the movie is in the fantastic atmosphere. The sets and environments are perfect and give the movie an unique atmosphere that actually is very creepy, even now days. It's also thanks to the cinematography that captured the images perfectly. One of the most atmospheric movies I have ever seen.

The story is told in a great way and I must say that it's told better than any other Dracula movie later released. The movie is full with some classic horror scene's that later would inspire many other filmmakers.

And yes the movie is actually scary, which is mainly thanks to Max Schreck who plays the part of Count Orlok in a most incredible way, also helped by some good make up. Most of the other performances are typically early movie stuff. Meaning that it's silly over the top at times. Gustav von Wangenheim gives a great lesson in overacting and his laugh might very well be the weirdest I have ever seen in a movie. But in a way all those performances give the movie a certain charm which makes it irresistible to watch.

There are also some surprising good special effects. Better one's as in the 1931 version with Bela Lugosi anyway. Some of them were really impressive and I can imaging it really seriously freaked some people out back in 1922.

Truly a piece of movie history that needs to been seen by the movie lovers, especially by those who like the horror genre. Still after 82 years one of the best horror movies of all time.

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It's Technically Brilliant But Something Just Wasn't Right
sddavis6326 June 2011
There's no doubt that this is a technically brilliant movie - groundbreaking considering that it was made in 1922. It's well filmed and features generally pretty good performances from its cast all around, within the parameters you would expect for the style of acting used in silent films of the era. It also gives us the German actor Max Schreck as Count Orlok - who may be the creepiest, most monstrous and most frightening take on the Dracula character ever - far more than Bela Lugosi (who basically defines the role) could ever hope for. It's even funny in places - I think of the scene where Orlock looks at a picture of Hutter's wife and says "your wife has a beautiful neck." It is, of course, a variation on the Dracula story, with the names changed and some significant parts of the story changed to get around the fact that director F.W. Murnau didn't have the rights to the story. But those changes don't detract from the basic story. In fact, they may enhance it by giving this a fresher sense. You don't know exactly what's going to happen because there are some differences. It has a lot going for it no doubt.

But something's not right. Maybe - as good as Schreck was (and even perhaps superior to Lugosi) - Lugosi's take on the character has so entranced all subsequent adaptations of the story that this just doesn't seem like the story. I found it very difficult to enter into this. It's not a problem with silent movies. I've enjoyed a number of silent movies over the years. But as well made as this was, this just didn't draw me in. I had to sit with it a number of times before I could sit through the whole thing - and at 1:20 it's not very long. And yet, to be honest, there's not any particular problem I can put my finger on. For all the good things involved with this production, something just wasn't working for me. It's unsatisfying to me that I can't explain what the problem was. It's just that there was a problem somewhere. Still, a movie as well made as this that was made when it was can't get anything less than 6/10.
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"What a lovely throat"
Steffi_P6 November 2006
FW Murnau's Nosferatu - the most famous silent horror film, the first adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula and containing some of the most memorable and terrifying images ever committed to celluloid.

The German Expressionist directors can be credited with inventing the horror genre. Not that works with a horror theme hadn't been made earlier elsewhere, but the Germans were the first filmmakers to actually use the medium of cinema to frighten the audience. In Nosferatu this is not just done by the disturbing look of the vampire, but by a number of cinematic techniques. For example, the huge distorted shadows are more eerie than seeing the real thing. He also nearly always has the vampire walking towards the camera, as if he is advancing upon the audience.

Max Shrek's as Dracula (or Graf Orlok, depending on the version) has to rank as one of the best performances of silent cinema. Not only is the vampire a brilliantly creepy creation in makeup, but the way Shrek moves and positions himself – stiff, spindly and slow, like an animated corpse – completes the character. The parts of the original Dracula novel which dealt with the vampire's ability to change into the shapes of various animals was dropped for Nosferatu, but Murnau references them by having Shrek creep like a rat, hunch his shoulders like a bat, rub his hands together like a fly and so on.

Other than Max Shrek, the other actors are decent but not outstanding. The performances are highly melodramatic and exaggerated, even by silent film standards. This was probably a deliberate request by Murnau to heighten the unreal quality throughout the picture, although having said that he favoured over-the-top performances even in straight dramas like Sunrise (1927).

Murnau had a great eye for space. His shots are often reminiscent of works by the Dutch painter Vermeer – cramped interiors with open doors leading to distant vanishing points. This helps to give the film a tight, claustrophobic feel.

Like DW Griffith, Murnau makes extensive use of cross-cutting. However, whereas Griffith would use cross-cutting to make comparisons between historical events or to create a tense race-against-time, in Nosferatu the effect is much more psychological. He reveals the psychic link between Jonathon and Nina by cutting between him being attacked by the vampire and her nightmare; he defines Renfield by cutting from him to Van Helsing describing a carnivorous plant; he shows Nina's troubled mental state by cutting from her sleepwalking to shots of the raging sea.

Nosferatu is an early landmark in horror films. It's not Murnau's best though, and also sadly due to its history there are no perfect prints available. But the fact that it is still so well known and still has the power to creep out modern audiences is testament to it as a great piece of film-making.
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