Movie review – Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu is a 1922 silent horror film that catapulted the genre to new heights. It centers around Count Orlok, played by Max Schreck, who develops an interest in leaving his castle and falls for his estate agent’s wife. Now, this is an adaptation of Count Dracula but he had to be named to Orlok due to copyright issues.

The movie was directed by German expressionist F.W. Murnau.

Now, even though I took a world cinema course where silent film critiquing was taught, we never really watched a full-length, silent feature. While I can’t compare Nosferatu to other silent films, this is still an incredibly creepy film to watch and you can’t help but to admire and appreciate how much work had to go into these works almost 100 years ago.

This is a dark movie in terms of its tone. Count Orlok, while being a vampire, just wants to live out his life and do what he can to survive, but that involves hurting an entire community and bringing a curse to the German town of Wisborg.

Now, the technical aspects of this film should be admired. There are pristine, wide-angle shots that could not have been easy to put together. Early on, there are many scenes shot at angles, while Thomas Hutter travels to Transylvania, due to some mountainous regions. It captures the scenery to a tee even when the film is shot in black-and-white. Throughout the film really, the cinematography from Fritz Arno Wagner and Günther Krampf is excellent. Of course, you can’t forget the iconic shadow of Count Orlok walking up the staircase and then stretching out his hands to open the door to Ellen Hutter’s room.

However, especially for today’s time, I think whoever owns copies of this film needs to implement some context prior to the beginning because this film may be interpreted as an anti-Semitic piece.

This was Germany in the 1920s and they had their stereotypical views of Jewish people. We also know the atrocities the Germans commit to the community in the years that followed. When you look at old caricatures of Jewish people, you will spot the similarities in Count Orlok. The big, crooked nose, the long claws on his fingers and the big, bald head are all common looks to these caricatures.

One can also compare Nosferatu’s look to a rat or mouse, which isn’t a coincidence as when he arrives to the town, there are rats that arrive as well and everyone believes that the plague is in the community.

From a technical standpoint, this film should be admired because of the work that needs to be put in. The music adds to the gothic and creepy ambience. The cinematography is excellent, and the acting, specifically from Greta Schröder, is phenomenal. However, you can’t overlook the prejudice undertones of the film because it only added fuel to the fire that became the most atrocious act of genocide in human history.

Rating: 7/10

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