Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror
(Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens)
Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Alexander Granach,
In Nosferatu, F. W. Murnau departed from the artifice associated with German Expressionism to invest the natural world with an unnerving incandescence that surpasses any studio-created image. Filming on location, he drew from the jagged profiles of the Carpathian Mountains and the narrow streets and distorted architecture of a Baltic village the most horrific sense of all: that of a real world. As the vampire, Max Schreck embodies a figure of living death, existence and nonexistence, a walking ruin leaving devastation in its wake. Linking cinema to gothic literary tradition and to the pictorial love of ruins and decay in nineteenth-century romantic painting, Nosferatu “is in many ways the archetype of the horror genre in its extremely sophisticated awareness of the significance of the ‘monster.’ Here, the vampire is clearly the embodiment of the forces that civilization represses, and the film can be read as an account of the appalling cost of that repression” (Robin Wood).