Friday, September 14, 2012

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror


And now, a guest post, about a movie that I find to be amazing. Enjoy, while I set up more movies and what not to review in the near future.

When it comes to scary movies, there are plenty to choose from given their long history. Going as far back as 1922 with the release of “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror”, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok, this German Expressionist horror film truly gave rise to the scary movie genre through director F.W. Murnau's inventive use of the German Expressionist film ideals and chiaroscuro lighting effects – the former now defunct and the latter used rarely in film.

The film opens with an idyllic scene between Thomas Hutter and his wife, Ellen. Interspersed with narrative cards, it isn't long before Thomas is off to go and seek out his client, the good Count Orlok, whom resides in Transylvania.

Doesn't this sound a tad familiar? It should, as “Nosferatu” is adapted from Bram Stoker's “Dracula”, with Thomas and Ellen Hutter as analogues to Johnathon and Mina Harker, and Orlok to Dracula himself. Now imitation is the surest form of flattery, but as there was no film version of “Dracula” prior to this release, one can hardly accuse the German filmmakers of rehashing something that had already been done. The same cannot be said for Hollywood today, which is filled with remakes of classics such as “The Exorcist”, “The Amityville Horror”, and “Halloween”.

In 1922, when “Nosferatu” was released, supernatural horror, and scary movies in general, were not commonplace. Instead of relying on the tried and true gimmicky tactics of today's films; blood-soaked jaunts consisting of thrilling chases and virginal teens running away from their tormentor, this unauthorized version of Bram Stoker's “Dracula” relied on a live symphony playing the score for this silent film gem.

The original score to the film was composed by Hans Erdmann, but due the majority of it being lost, what is heard during recent runs of the film is only a reconstruction of the score as it was played in 1922. Despite that fact, what begins as a light film in terms of the musical score, quickly descends into the macabre. The music and the visual scenery combine to fill viewers with stomach-dropping dread, putting you into a perpetual state of anxiety, wondering what the next scene will bring.

This is a film that doesn't scare as so much haunts with its atmospheric visuals and music. While by today's standards, “Nosferatu” might not stand out as the forefather of the scary movie due to it's unique and dated style, it is nonetheless a film that has endured the test of time and has been widely praised by film critics far and wide as one of the most influential masterpieces ever made.

“Nosferatu” is an undisputed classic of the scary film catalog that paved the way for other classics like 1932's “Freaks”, 1935's “The Bride of Frankenstein”, and of course 1960's “Psycho”. Without Murnau's vision, or Schrek's gaunt and creepy Orlok, the film landscape would not have been the same.

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2 comments:

Aaron said...

German Expressionist cinema, AMAZING! So interesting watching these in their historical context.

the sneering (homo-phobic) snob said...

What always spoils this movie for me is knowing that the director, F. W. Murnau, was a poof, the bloody dirty filthy disgusting fairy.