11 November 2015

NOSFERATU: A SYMPHONY OF HORRORS. 1922. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.



NOSFERATU: A SYMPHONY OF HORRORS. 1922. BASED ON BRAM STOKER'S 'DRACULA.' DIRECTED BY F.W. MURNAU. SCREENPLAY BY HENRIK GALEEN. STARRING MAX SCHRECK, GUSTAV VON WANGENHEIM AND GRETA SCHROEDER. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This horror classic was the first screen adaptation of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula,' although it's not quite as simple as that. Everyone knows the story of how Mrs. Bram Stoker wouldn't let Murnau have the rights to her hubby's book, so Murnau re-jigged a few things and changed a few names and basically created one of the most memorable-for-all-the-right-reasons horror movies of all time. Score!
Werner Herzog's NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE (1979) is an amazing film tribute to Murnau's original movie. Klaus Kinski's softly-spoken, love-starved Count Dracula, however, is probably a much more sympathetic figure than Schreck's nightmarish boogeyman.
SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (2000), directed by E. Elias Merhige and starring John Malkovich as Murnau and Willem Dafoe as Schreck/Count Orlok, is another brilliant film to watch out for in the Nosferatu-canon. It's a fictionalized account of the making of Murnau's 1922 movie which makes out that Schreck was an actual real vampire, whose motivation for making Murnau's movie was simply to kill and suck the blood of as many cast-and-crew members as he could sink his fangs into, in particular the lovely Greta Schroeder, Murnau's leading lady. It's fictionalized, remember, but oh my Lord, how exciting it would be if it were all true...!
Anyway, I'm thrilled to be able to tell you guys that on the 23rd of November 2015, the British Film Institute will be releasing NOSFERATU: A SYMPHONY OF HORRORS on Blu-ray. It'll be newly-remastered and accompanied by James Bernard's utterly breath-taking orchestral score. There will also be a range of delicious special features for film and horror buffs to rave over, including Christopher Frayling's video-essay on NOSFERATU and two short films, LE VAMPIRE (1945) by Jean Painlevé and THE MISTLETOE BOUGH (1908) by early film pioneer Percy Stow.
The story of NOSFERATU differs from that of DRACULA in that it's set in Germany in the mid-19th century as opposed to the England of the 1890s. Jonathan Harker is now called Thomas Hutter and his wife is called Ellen, and he travels from his home town of Wisborg across the Carpathian mountains to the castle of Count Orlok at the behest of his employer, Knock, who wants to sell the Count a house. So you see that the names have been changed, but the basic plot is still the same.
It's so unintentionally funny when Hutter tells his missus he's 'off to the land of phantoms, ghosts and robbers, etc...!' I mean, what exactly is a wife supposed to say to that? 'That's nice, dear. Don't forget to bring back the milk...?'
NOSFERATU: A SYMPHONY OF HORRORS is chock-a-block with iconic scenes and images, so it's tough enough to isolate a few for special mention, but here goes. I personally love the scene where Count Orlok first emerges from the shadows of his castle into the glare of Murnau's camera, and the one where the Count masquerades as his own coach-driver and brings the nervous Hutter to the castle.
All the scenes on the ship are so spooky, too, especially the one where the First Mate goes below deck and receives the worst shock of his life, and then the terrified captain ties himself to the wheel and he's found by the townspeople of Wisborg, stone-dead and still tied to the wheel of his former vessel. 'The ship of death had a new captain...' Ellen's sleep-walking scenes are dreamily, poetically eerie. They're as beautiful and graceful as scenes from a ballet.
The most iconic scene of all, though, would have to be Nozzie himself climbing the staircase to Ellen's bedchamber with his hideous form silhouetted on the wall in all its warts 'n' all glory. Yes, he might not have warts but he's as bald as a coot, bat-eared and buck-toothed, and as far from the late Christopher Lee's portrayal of the demonically handsome, sexually dominant lover in the Hammer films of the 50s, 60s and 70s as it's possible to get. The poor guy, he just wants to be loved. It's not his fault he fell out of the Ugly Tree and hit every goddamned branch on the way down. Well, is it...?
Do we all know how the real-life story ends? Every copy of Murnau's wonderful film was ordered to be destroyed after Bram Stoker's heirs sued over his adaptation of DRACULA. A few copies survived, however, and were copied in turn. Thank God for that. I say thank God for that...

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers' Centre, The International Bar, Toners' Pub (Ireland's Most Literary Pub), the Ha'penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland's Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home. In 2003, she was invited to be a guest on Niall Boylan's 98FM late-night radio talk show purely on the basis of having a 'sexy voice.'
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director's Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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