Nosferatu. Perhaps the horror movie. A silent film from 1922, it is a classic of its kind. In just the nine preceding movies I’ve watched this month, I’ve seen at least two overt references to it. I’ve never seen anything but short clips from it, so I thought it was high time to change that. I will admit that I was a bit hesitant to watch a ninety minute silent film. It’s not, as you might have guessed, my preferred style of entertainment.
The story, of course, is that of Dracula with the names changed. Even ninety years ago copyright was jealously guarded. As unsure as I was if I would like a silent film (youth of today etc. etc.) I found myself strangely captivated by the exaggerated performances. There’s certainly nothing subtle about the performances, but since they’re all equally theatrical it definitely works as a whole. And silent or not the pace is nigh perfect and keeps you drawn in. The restored version I watched was also accompanied by an orchestral version of the original score, which lent the movie even more atmosphere. The greatest attraction, though, is Max Schreck as count Orlok. His appearance and manners provide an otherworldly quality to the vampire that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else. I might have enjoyed it more for its historical value than as a piece of entertainment, but I certainly liked Nosferatu far more than I thought I would.