Director: F.W. Murnau
Screenplay: Henrik Galeen
Based on a Novel by: Bram Stoker (uncredited)
Starring: Max Schreck, Greta Schröder, Gustav von Wangenheim, Alexander Granach
Producers: Albin Grau, Enrico Dieckmann
Running Time: 95 min
BBFC Certificate: PG
I‘m going to try and keep the review of the film itself quite brief in my look at the new Masters of Cinema Blu-Ray & DVD re-release of F.W. Murnau’s classic horror film Nosferatu. It is a bona fide classic and has been discussed in great depth over the 91 years since its release so I don’t feel I can add much to the pot. From a personal perspective I came to the film very late on. In fact it was part of my ‘Blind Spot’ list in 2012, films which I felt I ‘should’ have watched previously but hadn’t got around to. Anyone that read my ‘Blind Spot’ post will have seen that I was a little disappointed with Nosferatu, but I’d watched that on a sub-standard transfer steamed online with a weak score. Without the hype that preceded my initial viewing, I put on this well-polished HD restoration in the hope that my love of the film would grow.
For the few of you that haven’t seen or aren’t aware of Nosferatu, it is an unofficial retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula story with the names changed. In fact, the film’s history is almost as famous as the film itself (even spawning a film inspired by the events, E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire). Stoker’s widow Florence sued the production company Prana for copyright infringement, gaining a court order to get all prints of the film destroyed. Luckily the film had already been released in several countries so a number of prints remained in tact.
The film’s plot simplifies the events of the novel (from what I can remember of it), removing most of the side characters. Instead we are left with a pared down story of Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim), an employee at an estate agent’s who is sent out to Transylvania to aid the Count Orlok (Max Schreck) in buying a property in town. The Count is an unusual character though who strikes fear into the hearts of the locals. It becomes apparent that he may not be human at all, but a vampire that feasts on the blood and souls of his unwilling victims. He makes his way to the town, spreading a fatal plague along the way which infects both the mind and body.