The original “Schreck”

Picture 1Nosferatu (1922) 
Roxy Theatre, “Silence is Golden”; October 26, 2013

It remains the template.

The shadows move and menace and a savage, ineffable evil is loose in the world. There are whispers of the unclean, the forbidden, and maids willingly bare their throats to the pallid stranger floating outside their second story window…

F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic “Nosferatu” has all the elements employed in horror films for the next ninety-plus years—it still makes its influence keenly felt. Hitchcock was much impressed and everyone who’s seen it will testify to it being the most faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to date.

Which nearly led to the film’s extinction. Murnau, you see, failed to secure rights to to said novel when he packed off his cast and crew to Rostock, Wismar, Northern Slovakia (doubling for Transylvania) and various other locales and commenced shooting his vampire movie. He decided to sidestep the issue, renaming key characters and making some largely cosmetic changes to the scenario. The ruse didn’t work and the widow Stoker eventually won a ruinous judgement against the producers of “Nosferatu”, including a provision that all existing copies of the film be destroyed.

How fortunate we are that court-appointed agents missed at least one print and we can still view and appreciate Murnau’s masterpiece (and not his only one).

Once again, the Roxy Theatre and Saskatoon Symphony players have combined to create a thrilling evening of cinema and music. Rick Friend’s score, especially in the second half (after the intermission), utilized the superb, skilled musicians and created an atmosphere of dread and anticipation, in perfect synchronization with events onscreen. A remarkable and singular achievement and it speaks to the high level of talent of all involved. Thanks to their sterling efforts, two audiences (there was a sold out matinee performance as well) were rendered spellbound, captivated by the story, the photography…and the absolutely sinister presence of the inimitable Max Scheck as the hideous “Count Orlock”.

We are very much in their debt.


About Cliff Burns

I'm a literary writer, specializing in slipstream/ alternative/surreal/science fiction. My influences include Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, David Cronenberg, Rene Magritte, any artist who defies convention and busts open genres, attacking the status quo.
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