NOSFERATU – The Dungeon Review!

nosferatuI can literally count on one hand how many silent films I’ve seen, horror or otherwise. To begin rectifying this I decided to watch two silent horror films back to back. Today’s review is for F.W. Murnau’s ‘Noferatu’.

Thomas Hutter travels deep into the mountains to meet with Count Orlok who has expressed interest in purchasing a residence in Wisburg. Papers are signed and the deal is made, but strange and unsettling events occur while Hutter is Orlok’s guest. Soon Orlok is travelling by boat to his new residence, located across the street from Hutter’s own. Unwell, and days behind, Hutter is desperate to get back to his beautiful wife Ellen, whom has already caught the eye of the mysterious count.

The set locations are scattered thoughout Eastern Europe. There is some impressively immense and breath-taking scenery along the route Hutter takes from Wisburg to Orlok’s castle. The vastness and seclusion of his surroundings as he heads towards his destination, created an effective foreboding to the scenes that follow. Orlok’s castle is this amazing, massive, tomb-like structure. An ancient relic and the perfect nest for a vampire. The chilling scenes that take place on the ship are extremely effective. The image of Orlok standing alone on the deck has ingrained itself into my psyche. Every set and location in ‘Nosferatu’ was extremely impressive. You have to respect the immensity of this project and how difficult it must have been to film multiple locations in the early 1920’s. Just the act of moving all the equipment from one location to another must have proved to be a daunting task.

still from nosferatu

Set to music and featuring a limited amount of written dialog, you rely on the actor’s performance to advance the story in a silent film. I wonder if Schreck’s performance would have been as effective had Orlok been given a voice? Being “green” in regards to silent films, and early cinema in general, I can’t really speak to the quality of the film as it relates to its peers. I can only speak to my own experience while viewing. It shows age certainly, it is over 80 years old! I felt like I was watching a piece of history, an old German newsreel telling me some bizarre and surreal story. But I thought the quality, considering age was pretty good.

‘Nosferatu’ kept me mesmerized from beginning to end and Max Schreck as Count Orlok is nothing short of inspired. His captivating performance is a pleasure to behold. The hunch in his lanky frame, his bat-like ears and long pointy fingers cast a most intimidating shadow. The vampire incarnations that followed generally portray the count as a handsome and debonaire gentleman. Obviously unaware of the copious film version’s to follow, Murnau and Schreck managed to create a character that not only would endure the test of time, but would remain completely unique more than 80 years later. The film is worth watching strictly for Max Schreck’s performance, but ‘Nosferatu is also a truly visceral experience and a genuine classic not to be missed. Highly recommended!

Tomorrow I’ll have a review for the silent film classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde directed by John S. Robertson and starring John Barrymore.

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: F.W. Murnau

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

2 Responses to “NOSFERATU – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. Nosferatu is one of my favorite silent films. A couple years ago I got to see it in a theater with live musical accompaniment and I am going to see it again on Friday. It is such an awesome way to see the movie.

    • Nosferatu will be playing with musical accompaniment from the Vancouver Symphony this year here also! I was so excited, but unfortunately it is one night only, and that is Halloween night, so I cannot go. I cannot imagine that would be anything short of awesome!

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