Directed by F.W. Murnau
Written by Henrik Galeen
The classic tale of Dracula, the blood sucking count, is one that is connected to Halloween and the narrative of horror for as long as film as been a medium at least, and famed director F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent intrepretation is first among the most famed. Nosferatu, a film featured in the IMDb Top 250, was one that I expected very little of in terms of fears and terrors. Being a silent film from 1922, I figured it couldn’t be too bad, and in fact, would probably be a bit hokey if anything, laughable in its attempt to scare. Being of such high regard, I found it none too surprising to be quite visually striking, however. And by the end of the film, I too was singing its praises.
I am no silent film expert, having seen less than 50 for sure, probably closer to a total of about 20-25. Living in state of films as they are now, I feel it takes even a bit of academia to truly know the craft of the silent film. Sure, I can sit back and watch some on my own and my thoughts and opinions are as valid as the next guy, but it still remains that the silent form is a completely different style. It’s just not something I am used to. And maybe that creates lowered expectations when I see one, I don’t know. But what F.W. Murnau does with Nosferatu is spectacular. It is an extremely well thought out narrative from a visual perspective, which it has to be since it doesn’t feature sound. The progression from shot to shot is there, and at times is very striking. I was impressed with how well constructed the film was.
But perhaps more impressed was I at the ability of the film to have me truly curious and truly fearful of the main character, the Count Orlok. Again, with striking visuals, Murnau creates a mood and an atmosphere throughout the film and often times he had my hair standing on end a bit. I am not one to easily scare, and I would not say this film truly scared me, but it did manage to create that aura about it that is equal parts creepy and impressive. Sure, the style of the film creates a few moments that could be chuckled at, but that remains part of the silent film era style of acting and presentation. As with any film, a bit of context must first be taken into consideration to truly ever appreciate any form of art, and with a German silent film from 1922, Nosferatu is truly a knockout. A great visual film, and a beautifully contructed narrative. And when it comes to storytelling, what more could you ask for?