A bit of film history plucked from my History of Motion Picture notebook circa 2002 for you. Between the years 1919 and 1933 Germany had a thriving film industry. They had the largest film studio in the world at the time. They created mainly films in the genre of German Expressionism, also a major art movement.  Like most German art past and present, these films had a spooky, strange view of the world. If you ever wanted to know where Tim Burton films got their ideas for set design watch The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, and you thought they were being originial. Back to Nosferatu, it was filmed in 1921 released in Germany the following year and didn’t hit American screens until 1929. It is based very closely on Dracula by Bram Stoker.  It is an abbreviated version with different character names; they had copyrights to adhere to back then as well. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how close this movie follows the book, Dracula. A masterwork of shadows and scary bits. The monster Nosferatu is truley frightening, even almost 90 years later. It is of course a silent film, which comes along with it’s own quirky acting that we people of the future may not understand and find somewhat distracting and even silly. Keep in mind that film was a totally new thing. Actors were still taught to act as if they were on stage. Not to mention the lack of an audio track means no talking. No subtle hints of emotion. Everything had to be told through body language and facial expression, with a few conversation cards along the way. This film, like many of the German Expressionism movement helped pave the way for all future horror flicks. If you want to see the roots of horror, check out this movie. Nosferatu gets a 4 out of 5 from me!

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