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Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) (1922)

  Directed by: F.W. Murnau
Written by: Henrik Galeen, Bram Stoker
Starring: Greta Schröder, Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim
Links: Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Is this your wife? What a lovely throat." - a review by philmc

Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror was genuinely creepy, which was something of a surprise. The version we watched was on DVD, with a modern soundtrack that definitely added to the film's atmosphere, and modern 'vintage' dialogue cards that were a bit hard to read and stayed on the screen too long.

The plot follows Bram Stoker's Dracula, though it was an uncredited source, and a subsequent court case meant that most copies of the film were destoyed. A young real estate clerk (Gustav von Wangenheim) is dispatched to distant lands to sell an abandoned property (which happens to be across the street from his own house) to an eccentric Count (Max Schreck). The clerk, named Hutter, leaves his newlywed wife (Greta Schröder -- who surely has the largest hands of any cinematic heroine ever) behind, and encounters a series of increasingly frightened townsfolk as he grows nearer to Count Orlok's castle.

Upon arrival he finds that the count sleeps during the day. After a day or two he writes a letter to his wife at home, complaining that the local mosquitoes have bitten him twice on the neck. Feeling somewhat ill, he decides to find out what the count does during the day and discovers the count, now appearing as a fully-fledged vampire, asleep in a coffin in the basement. Orlok subsequently locks Hutter in his room and arranges for himself (sleeping in his coffin) and his possessions to be moved by sea to his new home. Aboard the ship, the Count picks off the crew one by one, until they are all dead, and the ghost ship finally sails into port, seemingly of its own accord. Meanwhile, Hutter has escaped from the castle and makes his own way back home, overland.

There is a fabulous scene of Count Orlok carrying his own coffin to the new house, with the explanation that a vampire's strength is maintained only if he sleeps in the goddamed soil of his birthplace. The locals think that a plague has descended upon them, but Hutter's wife, having researched vampires in the meantime, hatches a self-sacrificing plan to destroy him.

The visuals in the film are arresting. The entire atmosphere is eerie, and it's punctuated by the scenes featuring Orlok, which establish visual tropes that are still drawn upon in modern horror movies. It would be interesting to see the film with other scores (there have been quite a few) to see what effect they have on the overall atmosphere.

philmc gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Sun 6 Feb 2005

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Reader comments

  1. it was borin

    Rating given: 2

    A comment from linzi on Wed 29 Jun 2005 22:27 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 2.00 (1 rating)

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