Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)
Reviewed on 2010 May 2
I realized how sad things really are when I went to the store today for a couple things. This chain generally carries some cute t-shirts, but today when I looked at the rack I noticed the fairly decent ones were all gone and now there were only two choices if I wanted a basic printed t-shirt: “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”. That’s when I decided this whole vampire thing is getting out of hand. I thought someone was joking when they said the “vampires” in Twilight glittered; Mr. Shukti assured me that yes, yes they do. You know what? That’s just wrong. Glitter?? What else do they do? Fly around on AXE™-scented unicorns? I’ve not seen the Twilight movies yet and in all fairness maybe they are decent fairy tales, with good story lines (or maybe they’re crap. My sister-in-law is threatening to make me watch the things and I’ll let you know then), but that ain’t a vampire. Christopher Lee was a vampire. You want a suave vampire? Sure, check out Louis Jordan or Frank Langella’s incarnation. Gary Oldman was easy on the eyes and still evil in Francis Ford Coppola’s telling of the Dracula myth. But for my money, this is a vampire. This guy right here. And to the right is the image that followed me into my dreams the night I watched the movie. It’s a 1922 silent F.W. Murnau classic that still gets under the skin.
Count Orlok (Max Schreck) is looking to move from Transylvania to Bremen, Germany, and lucky Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) is tapped by his boss to sell to the new expatriate the house across the street from the Hutter haus. Hutter leaves his new wife behind and slogs to Transylvania, and from the beginning he realizes this won’t be a typical real estate transaction. Orlok is beyond garden-variety crazy royalty, taking an undue interest in Hutter and, worse, his lovely wife, remarking about her pretty neck. The other odd thing is the number of deaths, attributed to plague, that seem to coincide with Orlok’s arrival in his new land.
This is a favorite movie of mine at Halloween, but when is a bad time for a classic gothic horror tale? Even the overwrought acting typical in silents doesn’t grate here. The whole thing is creepy and well-told, but it just wouldn’t have been the same without Max Schreck. If you really want some sweet dreams, watch it back-to-back with that other silent creepy German gift to moviedom, Der Golem.
Four chocolate morsels. Glittery emo vampires are weak.