Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens</strong> (1922)

(On Cable TV, January 2018) My knowledge of silent movies is cursory, and so Nosferatu (1922) is now the oldest movie I have ever seen so far, beating out 1925’s The Lost World by three years. It certainly looks and feels old—while, by the late thirties, movies had already acquired much of the grammar they’re using today, this 1922 effort feels rougher. Overacting is almost de rigueur in a silent film with bad image quality, and the intercutting of text and action doesn’t flow very well. Still, the genre origins of Nosferatu (which adapts the broad strokes of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to a point where copies of the film were ordered destroyed after a lawsuit) means that there is a story to follow, and a few thrills along the way—the film may be close to a hundred years old by now, but seeing Nosferatu (legendarily played by Max Schrek) rise from his coffin, plank-straight, is still effective even now. Fans of Dracula will focus on the numerous deviations from the book, but the film is still good for just a bit more than historical interest. A film with a bizarre, baroque history, Nosferatu is now in the public domain which explains why it’s freely available online … and often shown by budget-conscious TV stations. Long may it continue to haunt nighttime programming.

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