Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, is a movie I often suggest to anyone and everyone - it is the 1922 German Expressionist Horror classic. A dark adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, directed by F.W. Murnau, and starring Max Schreck as the vampire, Count Graf Orlock. Though it’s based off the novel by Bram Stoker, the fact is that it was an unauthorized adaptation, thus leading to changes in the characters and other details.
So if you’re a purist of the original Bram Stoker Novel, this film may not be for you, however I do encourage one to keep an open mind. One of the more obvious changes would be the name of the original vampire Count Dracula becoming Count Orlock. In my opinion the name “Graf Orlock” was far more daunting, considering the various Hollywood bastardizations of Count Dracula's character, and given the ghoulish appearance of Max Schreck as the count himself.
Basically, if you have any interest in film, vampires, or Bram Stoker at all, then you should see this film. It is a brilliant example of what silent pictures could accomplish in their glory days, and encourages you, as a viewer, to really stretch yourself.
While most people don’t really like having to watch a movie without sound (oh shudder), I would really suggest giving this one a go. Nosferatu is dramatic, action-packed, and most of all, the acting is amazing. I have never been more scared of a movie villain as I am of Max Schreck as Count Orlok. This includes Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and every Saw movie ever made.
This adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Nosferatu is suspenseful, heartwarming, and really gives you the creeps. They just don’t make movies like this anymore! Today’s films feel like they have to show you tons of red corn syrup and decapitated limbs in order to keep you interested, but in this case, all F.W. Murnau has to do is flash a shot of Schreck being his own creepy self and you are already on edge. The music for this film is also phenomenal.
Since there was no spoken dialogue, the silent filmmakers knew that there had to be a little something special added to movies in order to keep audiences from falling asleep in their chairs. So, what did they do? They added awesome and super-creepy music in the background, of course!
This score, written by Hans Erdmann, is truly fantastic, and adds an element of suspense that is rarely achieved in film today. Erdmann tells the entire story in his music, from the desperation of the vampire, to the fear of the man (Gustav von Wangenheim) who is staying in his castle. The suspense is there, the romance is there, the sadness of being enslaved in darkness is there. Truly, this is a movie that involves all of the senses.
The story follows Thomas Hutter, from a factious German city called Wisborg, whose manager receives a letter to instructing Hutter to visit Transylvania to meet with a client by the name Count Orlock. The letter wishes Hutter a good trip over “to the land of Phantoms”, to which he misguidedly accepts, and departs, leaving his beloved wife in the company of his companions. Through Hutter’s travels, the local people cringe at the name Count Orlock, and he is warned not to go on with his journey. Hutter even comes across a book documenting the details of ghoulish beings that walk the night, most importantly disclosing the particulars of vampires. Hutter writes it off and the next day continues on his trip.
His escorts leave his side, refusing to get any closer to the destination, leaving Hutter to continue on his own. While on foot he is picked up by a coachman, who delivers him to Count Orlock’s castle. Upon his arrival he is greeted by the tall dark, ghoulish figure that is Count Graf Orlock. It is from here on in the story, that Hutter’s experiences become horrific nightmares.
Nosferatu, it's mood and atmosphere does justice to the hype people have been spouting for years. For anyone who’s interests are darkly or if you just want to be scared, I highly suggest it. This film is just plane fantastic. Everyone should see it, because it will really make you look at life, the vampire myth, and the evolution of the acting craft and the film industry.
It is so important to look back on the past, and appreciate what has come before us. It is also important to consider the question that drives this film: What can happen to a man when he utters the name of Nosferatu.
" But the world was a tomb to me, a graveyard of broken statues, and each of those statues resembled her face." -- Louis, Interview with A Vampire