Special Event - Centenary Tribute
F.W. Murnau's masterpiece, released in 1922, was the first (albeit unofficial) screen adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Nearly 80 years on, it remains among the most potent and disturbing horror films ever made. The sight of Max Schreck's hollow-eyed, cadaverous vampire rising creakily from his coffin still has the ability to chill the blood. Nor has the film dated.
Murnau's elision of sex and disease lends it a surprisingly contemporary resonance. The director and his screenwriter Henrik Gaalen are true to the source material, but where most subsequent screen Draculas (whether Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Frank Langella or Gary Oldman) were portrayed as cultured and aristocratic, Nosferatu is verminous and evil. (Whenever he appears, rats follow in his wake.)
Murnau went out on location in his native Westphalia. As a counterpoint to the nightmarish world inhabited by Nosferatu, he used imagery of hills, clouds, trees and mountains (it is, after all, sunlight that destroys the vampire).
A classic example of German expressionism, the image of Schreck's diabolic Nosferatu, bathed in shadow, sidling his way toward a new victim with heavy chiaroscuro, oblique camera angles and jarring close-ups, all had great influence on the horror genre and later film noir were all to be found first in Murnau's chilling masterpiece. What devilish symphony of horror music will Ben Hall create on the organ?