Sunday, October 27, 2013

Silent Sundays: Nosferatu (1922)


“Nosferatu! That name alone can chill the blood.”

            Since Thursday is Halloween I decided to get into the creepy spirit even though I am totally out of the creepy spirit since I am doing a haunt this year with my friends and watch Nosfertau. Nosferatu is considered one of the greatest silent films and one of the greatest films of all time. It is a film I have been wanting to see for some time so perfect timing.
            Nosferatu is based on Bram Stoker’s timeless novel Dracula. Murnau did not have the rights to make a full out Dracula adaptation and did eventually get sued by Stoker’s estate.
            A young man named Jonathon Harker  is sent to see a Count Dracula in Transylvania by his employer Renfield to close some kind of deal. Traveling through the small town before Dracula’s castle he says he is in a rush to get to his destination he should have been there. A silence befalls the people in the pub and they tell him that no one travels outdoors at night because of all the phantoms. In his room Harker finds a book on vampires but he just reads it for light entertainment.
            Harker reaches Dracula’s castle at midnight the following day. Dracula has him stay up with him since he sleeps during the day. The next morning Harker awakens alone on a chair and notices he has two bite marks on his neck. He writes to his wife Nina telling him about the bites. Back home Nina is nervous she was not happy about her husband leaving she did not have a good feeling. He begins to figure things out. He finds the Count sleeping in a coffin in the basement. Harker goes back to his room and reads the vampire book. The section he reads says that the Nosferatu drinks the blood of young people to keep himself alive.
            Nosferatu makes the voyage to the small town Harker is from. Renfield is connected to Nosferatu on some level and anticipates his master’s arrival. The men on the ship Nosferatu are on die one by one. No one knows about Nosferatu being on the ship so the captain suspects The Plague.
            Nina is happy that Harker makes is back home with her. He made her promise not to read the vampire book but, of course, she does. She finds the section that tells how the blood of a woman pure of heart can kill Nosferatu by letting him drink her blood and keeping the monster by her side until sunrise and all will be saved. Nosferatu finds her and does exactly what the book said. When the sun comes up Nosferatu is no more.
            I just want to apologize if the names are wrong. These were the name I saw in the copy I watched on Youtube. In my research I read that some of the translations of the film from the 1920s have different names for the characters depending on the country.
            Even though Nosferatu is essentially Dracula with a name change and a very creepy monster it does stand on its own as an extremely innovative and important cinematic feat.  Murnau’s direction is genius as always. Some of the shots of the monster Murnau kept the camera right on him for a stretch of time. The shots are very scary. I think because the monster looks so fake that you look at him and he does freak the hell outta you! The makeup for the monster is very unsettling to look at for a long period of time. Nosferatu is a very good silent film. Not one of my favorites but it is absolutely worth watching.
            For this post I am going to let Lauren Bacall have the last word on vampire films:
            Yes I saw [Twilight], my granddaughter made me watch it, she said it was the greatest vampire film ever. After the ‘film’ was over, I wanted to smack her across her head with my shoe but I do not want a book called Grannie Dearest written about me when I die. So instead I gave her a DVD of Murnau’s 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu and told her, ‘Now that’s a vampire film!’


Have a Happy Halloween. Stay safe and don’t get sick eating too much candy or drinking too much at a party.