The magnificent Murnau. In my opinion, his most impressive film. There is a threat flying upon us all through the movie. And the special effects increase this threat: the coffin closes itself and moves without any help, door which opens or closes without any human intervention...
And of course, all these shadows and lights which are Murnau's touch, and a constant touch in the German cinema at this time.
This is Dracula. And even better than Dracula: Orlock (Max Schreck).
Terrifying Orlock, frightening Orlock, captivating Orlock.
A shadow became flesh and blood. With two incisors (in the later Dracula movies, his canine teeth will replace them) which help him suck his victims' blood.
Nosferatu, it is above all a strange mood, a worrying atmosphere: thanks to its characters and settings.
The first important location is Wisborg, a port city, where a plague has spread since the arrival of a phantom ship. In this boat, a few coffins containing Orlock's body and his native soil, and also a few contaminated rats.
The second important place is Orlock's castle, with its crypt where he can rest during the day. This is where everything starts. This is where Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) is kept prisoner after his blood had been sucked. He will escape this castle, but it will be a rough time for him.
In Wisborg, Orlock lives in a huge windy house without any windows. But he does not care. He needed a house in front of Hutter's which could allow him to spy on his wife, the one with such a beautiful neck...
The last important - and probably most impressive - location is Hutter's house: its stairs, its bare wall, and the room where the fatal vampire attack takes place.
Hutter - Harker in Bram Stoker's novel - sells a house to a strange man: count Orlock. He is the vampire's first victim (in the film). He has a wife, Ellen (Greta Schröder) - Mina -, a beautiful woman with black hair. His boss, Knock (Alexander Granach) - Renfield - has sealed a deal with Orlock, which made him his servant.
Ellen, the vampire's new victim, risks the eternal damnation, but is eventually saved. But to what cost?
And Orlock. The central character. He drives the cart which brings Hutter to his castle. We can only see his great and staring eyes. Hutter is worried also by his appearance: tall, bald, with pointed ears, thick eyebrows and very long nails, also dressed in black. He does not make big gestures: only his natural pose scares us. He is the personification of terror:
- when he appears on the deck of the boat, film in a low angle, giving the impression of someone (something?) bigger, and even more frightening ;
- when he walks up the stairs towards Ellen's room, his black shadow on the bare wall increases once more the terror.
Therefore, when he is hit by the sun rays, everyone feels relieved.
I could talk to you about the premonition of such a movie: how it announces the brown plague which spread over
Let us appreciate this movie and consider it as it is: simply a masterpiece. No other vampire movie reached such a splendor. Except maybe Vampyr, by Carl Theodor Dreyer.
But this is another story.