Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (translated as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror; or often simply Nosferatu) is a classic German Expressionist horror feature film directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok.
The movie, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (for instance, “vampire” became “Nosferatu” and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok”).
There is much about Nosferatu that continues to impress. Not least of these is the Count himself, as grotesque a creation as you’ll ever see. Played with an almost supernatural stiffness by Max Schreck, this is as far from the urbane, attractive Dracula that we see in most films as you can get. He’s genuinely creepy, his rat-like fangs, pointed ears and talon-like fingernails making him as otherworldly as you can imagine.
The ambience doesn’t quite work in the early scenes – Hutter seems far too relaxed in the company of such a monstrous character – but later, he becomes one of the most unsettlingly weird monsters in film history.
The shots of Orlok stood statically, moving slowly and unnaturally, rising vertically from his coffin and casting grotesque shadows on the walls are rightfully iconic.
David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA
Brand new high-definition restoration by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung
Two audio commentaries: one newly recorded by film historian David Kalat; the second by historian R. Dixon Smith and critic Brad Stevens
The Language of Shadows, a 53-minute documentary on Murnau’s early years and the filming of Nosferatu
New video interview with BFI Film Classics Nosferatu author Kevin Jackson
Newly translated English subtitles with original German intertitles
A 56-page booklet featuring writings and rare imagery
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Orava Castle in Slovakia. The 2020 BBC-Netflix Dracula mini-series was also filmed there.
MOVIES and MANIA rating:
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)