Review: Nosferatu / Cert: PG / Director: F.W. Murnau / Screenplay: Henrik Galeen / Starring: Max Shreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Alexander Granach, Ruth Landshoff, Wolfgang Heinz / Release Date: October 25th
Nosferatu is the earliest known adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. It was also unauthorized, incurring a lawsuit from Stoker's widow as a result. Due to this, several prints of the film were destroyed, but this re-released version has been painstakingly put together using surviving reels from different countries.
The film starts with young, loved-up estate agent Thomas Hutter (von Wangenheim) living in the fictitious German town of Wisborg with his wife Ellen (Schröder). His insane boss Knock (Granach) sends him to Transylvania’s Carpathian mountains to sell a local house to the mysterious Count Orlok (Shreck).
The townspeople fear Orlok and Hutter soon finds out why – the looming, bat-eared, long-fingernailed Count has a penchant for sleeping in a coffin during the day and biting people's necks at night. After reading a book on vampires, Hutter strongly suspects that Orlok is one, and he passes out as the menacing nosferatu approaches. Luckily, he awakens in time to see Orlok climbing into one of several coffins on a coach and leaving the castle for Wisborg. Hutter must then hurry back home to save his wife from Orlok, who leaves behind a trail of death on his journey which is blamed on the plague.
Released in 1922 (the same year Christopher Lee was born, ironically), the film was a product of the German expressionist movement of the time. A silent film, it features an almost forgotten style of acting that will be refreshingly new to a younger generation of horror fans and endearing to lovers of classic cinema. Despite only being on-screen for a tenth of the film, Shreck puts in a performance so creepy and compelling that it sparked rumours he was an actual vampire; this myth being explored in the 2000 film Shadow of a Vampire. In a beautiful coincidence, his surname means 'terror' in German. The perfectly timed score complements the haunting tone of the film, with Shreck's prowling, unblinking monster stalking up the stairs the moment Murnau tints the film blue to signify nightfall.
Nosferatu is one of the finest movies in history, and not just in the horror genre. In a world containing The Lost Boys (great) and Twilight (utter *bleep*), this is a welcome return for the great-grandfather of vampire films.
Expected Rating: 10 out of 10