Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nosferatu

It's been F.W. Murnau night, or nights I should say, around here, first with "Faust" and then with "Nosferatu", both silent films by the director.

I'll comment on Faust later, probably in the morning.

As for Nosferatu, you know I don't think it translates well from the time it was made to now. Part of it no doubt is the fact that pretty much anyone who's ever watched a documentary on TV about horror movies has seen the vampire from Nosferatu, therefore making it common place. To me, the creature looks kind of hokey, just for that reason---i.e. that I'd seen images of it since I was a kid and there were so many better done vampires since then....

But, towards the end of the film I realized what Albin Grau, the special effects artist, was trying to convey: Nosferatu is set up to resemble images of the devil's minions painted in religious art from the middle ages on. This is something that people living in an era where not everything was geared towards moving images would get. I guess if you look at it that way the film is better, but you have to consciously try to see it differently for that to work.

Additionally, the Kino Video release suffers from a soundtrack that's made completely on synthesizers instead of on live instruments. It's not synthesizer music but synths trying to imitate strings, brass, and these terrible throaty sounding pan pipes. Even the one scene where there's a drum has it synthesized.

Chalk Nosferatu up to being important for historical significance and being hard to understand in the way the audience understood it due to changing cultural attitudes.

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