Nosferatu (1922)

nosferatu eine symphonie des grauens poster 1922 movie
10 Overall Score
Plot: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10
Acting: 10/10

A horror and cinematic classic

Silent pictures aren't for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Nosferatu (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens)

Studio:  Film Arts Guild

Genre(s):  Horror/Silent

Release Date(s):  March 4, 1922

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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Who is knocking at your door?

Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) has been sent to Transylvania by his employer Knock (Alexander Granach).  Finding himself dealing with a strange man named Count Orlok (Max Schreck), Thomas finds himself imprisoned in Orlok’s castle as Orlok sets his sights on Jonathan’s home of Wisborg, Germany.  Thomas must escape Orlok’s clutches to stop him as he hides within rumors of the plague and seeks out Thomas’ wife Ellen (Greta Schröder).  The only thing that may stop Orlok’s horror is Ellen…and it could be her death!

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Hey, Mr. Vampire man…you enjoying your stay on our cruise ship?

Directed by F. W. Murnau, Nosferatu (or the full German title of Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens aka Nosferatu:  A Symphony of Horror).  The silent film was one of the first vampire films ever made.  The movie almost became a lost movie, but since its release, Nosferatu has become a classic that has influenced hundreds of movies since its release.

Nosferatu was controversial when it was released.  The producer wanted to make a vampire film and Henrik Galeen did an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 novel Dracula.  As a result, the movie was sued by Stoker’s estate (Stoker died in 1912), and all copies were ordered destroyed.  Fortunately, one copy survived and the movie became a cult classic.  Now, the movie has multiple versions and some versions even change the names back to Jonathan Harker, Renfield, and Nina (instead of Mina) with the town being Bremen instead of Wisborg.

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All I wanted was a little nip before sunrise…Thanks for nothin’ lady!

The story does (for the most part) adapt Dracula but simplifies it.  The movie gets rid of some of the supporting characters and greatly reduces the role of Van Helsing.  Orlok also does not spread vampirism by draining the blood of his victims.  The people assume (with the arrival of rats on the ship) that it is the plague, and Orlok uses the plague as his means of getting around.  The story also changes the ending of the film by having Ellen sacrifice herself to keep Orlok distracted until sunrise…which kills him, her, and frees his victims.

Like most silent movies, the acting is very over-the-top.  Both Gustav von Wangenheim and Greta Schröder completely over emphasize their movements (even beyond necessary comprehension for a silent film) for their roles.  I do commend Alexander Granach who plays Knock (aka the mad Renfield) with glee and fun, but the star of the film is obviously Max Schreck) as Count Olaf.  Schreck just seems to relish in the make-up and fun of his character who is creepy and memorable.

The soundtrack of a silent movie is also the star, and the music for Nosferatu was composed by Hans Erdmann.  Unfortunately, much of Erdmann’s score was lost so many composers have recreated it.  With the loss of the score, you probably can’t truly say the “real” version of Nosferatu will ever be seen again.

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Ouch…blood heartburn!

Fortunately, Nosferatu’s visuals still exist, and like many, I love them.  The film is classic German Expressionism with big shadows, extreme sets, and great framing.  Orlok himself looks amazing in the setting and scenes like him rising out of the coffin, climbing the stairs, drinking Ellen’s blood, and his death are iconic and classic scenes of the cinema.

Nosferatu is a must if you love cinema and want to understand how it evolved.  The movie is important and influenced others pictures.  Werner Herzog released Nosferatu the Vampire (1979) starring Klaus Kinski as a tribute and Shadow of the Vampire (2000) features a story that tells the story of the making of Nosferatu (plus, reveals Schreck was a real vampire).  Even things like A Series of Unfortunate Events can give credit to Nosferatu since Count “Olaf” highly resembles Count Orlok in looks and style.  If you never seen Nosferatu, even if you can’t stand silent films, it is a must…a classic of film.

Related Links:

Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

Shadow of the Vampyre (1979)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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