Directed by F.W. Murnau [Other horror films: Satanas (1920), Der Bucklige und die Tänzerin (1920), Der Januskopf (1920), Schloß Vogelöd (1921) Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage (1926)]
I can’t say for sure, but this may be only the third time I’ve seen this German classic. There’s not a specific reason for this, aside from maybe the fact the print I own on DVD is a bit rough (thanks Mill Creek), but it’s also true that while I enjoy some ideas and aspects about Nosferatu, I’ve never really loved it as a whole.
Throwing in the whole plague sub-plot was a nifty idea, I think. Especially given that I’m writing this while many are still on moderate lock-down due to Covid-19, the diseases’ impact on the characters (while somewhat negligible as far as the story is concerned, and does more to help with the ominous atmosphere, to be honest) brought a bit of reality to the film. That scene in which bodies are being taken out through the narrow streets in particular was an effective one.
Count Orlac himself (played by none other than Max Schreck) didn’t have that much in the way of character, but definitely made his presence known. He was awkward as fuck, but everyone has their vices, and hey, I don’t have a castle in the land of phantoms, thieves, and ghosts, so maybe he’s doing something right. Schreck was great here, be him creeping up stairs or standing ramrod straight in a split second (both highly effective scenes).
I couldn’t help but feel for both Gustav von Wangenheim (who was also in Schattan – Eine nächtliche Halluzination) and Greta Schröder, as both of their characters went through the wringer. I felt legitimately dismayed as Schröder’s unhappiness at being away so long from her husband, and I enjoyed both of their performances, though I do think the ending maybe could have been extrapolated on a bit.
The print I watched this time around was pretty nice (it was on TCM, so could you imagine anything but?), with a nice tint, solid score, and all-around pleasant presentation. I just wished the inter-titles had been in German as opposed to English, but that’s a personal preference which has no impact on my enjoyment.
Overall, I don’t doubt at all that Nosferatu is a classic, and rightfully so. The effects were pretty good for the time, and some scenes, like I said, still increase suspense to this very day. It’s just never been a personal favorite of mine (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was always more my vibe).