Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror [Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens] (1922)

Starring Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Alexander Granach, Georg H. Schnell, Ruth Landshoff, John Gottowt, Gustav Botz, Max Nemetz, Wolfgang Heinz

Directed by F. W. Murnau

Expectations: A favorite from my early film snob era.

Nosferatu still has the power to enthrall, entertain and permeate the room with its creepy tone. 90 years old, the film remains remarkably watchable, a fact attributable to the inspired direction from F.W. Murnau and a truly haunting vampire in Count Orlok (Max Schreck). The images of Orlok ascending the stairs in shadow that climax the film are so pure, simple and affecting that I doubt anyone, even a detractor, could walk away from the film without remembering them for a long time after. I haven’t seen Nosferatu in probably 10–12 years, and I think I appreciate it now more than ever.

The story is essentially a Cliff Notes version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with all the names changed and a considerably quicker pace. But the gist of the story is here, even if everything is shortened and characters are reduced to just the bare essentials. You could even argue that the Van Helsing character is completely superfluous in this telling of the tale (and you wouldn’t be wrong), but I love his scene in the middle of the film showing his students the Venus Fly Trap, so I can forgive this slight issue.

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