Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Symphony of Terror for Moog and Slide Whistle

Well, it was a late work night last night, so I didn’t get this posted before collapsing from exhaustion. So its getting posted now. And through the miracle of the “internet” if you’re reading the archive for fun (though what madness could impel that idea escapes me) it’ll appear in a sequential format, and it’ll be like there was no missing day at all. Except for this incriminating paragraph. Curses! Foiled by my own verbosity!

Rounding out my foray into classics of early German cinema is F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu. Its from 1922, so it predates Metropolis by five years and it definitely lacks the polish and film quality of the latter. Still, it definitely deserves its place in the hallowed halls of film classics. The plot is essentially an unauthorized bastardization of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Guy goes to Transylvania and is essentially responsible for bringing a vampire to his home town. Vampire takes a ship and kills the crew before leaving a bloody mess in said town before finally being stopped. There’s even a crazy lunatic. Ok, so the plot’s pretty straightforward.

Admittedly, the directing is also usually straightforward too. But there are moments of visual awesomeness. You’ve probably seen the hunched and spooky shadow of a figure creeping up a stairway? That’s from Nosferatu. And its one of the best shots ever. Also, Count Orlock is probably my favorite movie vampire ever. Freaky looking as all hell and a downright monster with creepy monster hands. Another interesting technique Murnau used was adding different filters to set the mood of the place. This being a monochrome picture, it’s a little difficult to tell a lot of the time whether its day or night outdoors (since they probably filmed all the outdoor stuff during daylight so it would come up on film), so a blue tint was added to make it look a little more like night time without being nearly as dark as actual night.

The only real complaint I have about the movie is that, well, the soundtrack does sound rather digitized. This being a silent film and all, the original score must’ve deteriorated, so a substitute was put in. It does get the job done, but it doesn’t sound nearly as good as Metropolis’. And yes, parts of it do sound like a slide whistle.

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