Nosferatu (1922).

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This film defined the vampire movie genre forever.

I bet a lot of the tropes we take for granted today which are concerned with vampire films come from here. Or, if not, then from the Bela Lugosi adaptation of Dracula in 1931.

At this point in cinematic history (1922), the advent of sound was 7 years away. But Nosferatu was very, very present. Max Schreck plays the role of Count Orlok (Dracula), and his portrayal of the vampire has gone down in history.
This film is neither perfect, nor imperfect.

The visuals are stunning, and with the influences of the theatre still present, and due to the obvious lack of audio, the audience must rely on the actor’s expressions and body language to put across their feelings and emotions. This can drag at times, and with the intertitles being few and far between, the audience must rely on what they see as the story unfolds.

There are some chilling moments, but some were also comical. I don’t know if this is just a 21st (slightly ignorant) perspective, but with the scene of Orlok dashing around with the coffins, it made me chuckle. That being said, with Schreck as Orlok; lacking the traditional charm and seductiveness of any of the Dracula’s who would follow after him cinematically, it made him more of a ‘frightening’ figure.

Despite this, I have immense respect for this 1922 movie. It puts such silly slop (Twilight and its cohorts, ahem) to shame, and Schreck’s visage was PERFECT for the role of Orlok. The image of him at the window of his castle was actually quite frightening in retrospect.

Also, keep in mind that when he bites his victims, they don’t become vampires like they do in every single other adaptation. They just die, of ‘the plague’. While that is unfortunate, I don’t think a film made 92 years ago could really handle all the extra zombified characters who are at the mercy of Orlok. A good script doesn’t do well with overuse of zombies, and it is most inconvenient.
I wish I’d known more about this movie when doing improv comedy. While this is not a comedy, the use of movement and expression to portray a scene can put across so much even without the inclusion of dialogue.
I know this film is part of the German expressionist movement. I didn’t watch it for that. I just wanted to watch it because it really is a massive part (and a cornerstone) of cinematic history. They also did a massive reference to it in Spongebob, so that’s cool as well.
MY RATING: 3.5 / 5.

 

 

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