Nosferatu (1922) – Ace Mini-Review + How Ace Are These Vampires?

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror)
Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder
Written by: Henrik Galeen
Book: Dracula by Bram Stoker
Directed by: F. W. Murnau
Germany, 1922

How good is this movie?

As a horror film, it’s a weird mixture of creepy and ridiculous. Some of the funny moments are due to the experimental special effects, but at times the filmmaker’s seem to be going for deliberate comedy. Count Orlok is genuinely unnerving in his appearance and behaviour, but I’d find him more compelling if Hutter didn’t insist on overacting all his reaction shots. Still, the last fifteen minutes, in which Ellen makes her fateful decision and becomes the target of Orlok’s stalking, is actually quite gripping. And you kind of have to respect the downer ending.

How ace is this movie?

Hutter and Ellen are married, and they are clearly very much in love. Their relationship is a source of strength and motivation for both of them. However, it is not as important to the story as the conflict with Count Orlok.

How ace are these vampires?

This is one of the least sexualised Dracula adaptations. Far from being handsome and sophisticated, Count Orlok is ugly and monstrous. He is explicitly linked to the plague. Also, unlike vampires in other stories, he does not seem to make other vampires. His victims do not become his children, his lovers, or his slaves; they simply die, leaving him on his own to live a seemingly celibate existence. Still, the film does contain some sexual overtones. There is an ambiguously homoerotic moment when Orlok tries to suck blood from Hutter’s thumb. Orlok also shows an early and persistent interest in Ellen that seems clearly linked to her sex and beauty. The casting of Ellen as a “sinless maiden” evokes ideas of sexual purity, putting Orlok in the role of sexual predator. And Orlok’s final attack on her can easily be thought of as a seduction or rape.

3 Stars; 3 Aces

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