2Thanks for the comments, all. In all, I found the movie to be good. Not great, but good. It was, as fusoya said, probably the best true distillation of what the vampire myth meant to Romanians…that is, the absolute soulless representation of evil, disease, corruption, and plague. Max Schreck’s Nosferatu is unforgettable and horribly effective. His stiff, unnatural movement, the makeup, the dead, unblinking eyes. Nasty stuff.
However, it was riddled with problems.
The pacing, especially in the beginning, was atrocious. I was tempted to turn it off at the scene where Knock and Hutter were discussing how much money could be made via Count Orlok. They grasped each other and grinned like cheesy maniacs for what seemed like 30 seconds. Ugh.
The acting by everyone except Schreck was horrible. I wanted to rip Hutter’s throat out myself.
Too little attention was paid to why Orlok was attracted to Ellen, thus removing the sexual aspect of the vampire from the story…an element that was present in Stoker’s novel, and most other vampire adaptations. As an aside, this, in my opinion, is where most other vampire movies go wrong. The vampire is supposed to be a powerfully sexual monster. Most directors recognize this, so they cast and shoot the vampire as a handsome, debonair charmer, rather than recognizing that the monster’s sexuality has nothing to do with his looks, but is more about his power to mesmerize and dominate.
Orlok died in the end not because anybody was hunting him, but because he screwed up and mistimed his predation. Pretty lame. He’s been doing this for how long again? I know Ellen supposedly sacrificed herself so he’d forget that dawn was coming, but I never felt a visceral connection between them that would signify that Orlok would lose himself altogether. Unsatisfying.
The effects and camera shots used in conjunction with the monster were masterful, though. I loved the Demeter scenes. The bowsprit camera, the shot of the ship from another, approaching ship was almost like a Steadicam shot. Nicely done. I also liked the Demeter sailing into port as a death ship. Furnau really nailed the whole almost Medieval feeling of Black Plague.