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Plot: The filming of Nosferatu (1922) is hampered by the fact that its star Max Schreck is taking the role of a vampire far more seriously than seems humanly possible. Runtime: 92 mins Release Date: 26 Jan 2001
Richly nuanced exploration of silent film classic (by maryf)
What if the lead character in the film Nosferatu really was a vampire? Shadow of the Vampire explores this unusual concept as it follows the story of the filming of the 1921 silent film classic. Malkovich plays the role of Murnau, the German director who makes the bargain from hell to provide realism to his Dracula knock-off, only to find that he has unleashed a monster. This is a horror film that is really a psychological drama -- the true horror lies in the man who decides no price is too high for the making of his movie. At the same time, there's a lot of humor, as well as an <more>
intriguing glimpse of Berlin in the decadent 1920s.Dafoe is definitely an Oscar nominee with this performance and the film should get an Oscar for his make-up, too : especially powerful scenes include his describing his reaction to reading the novel Dracula, by Bram Stoker; and a confrontation with Murnau near the end of the film, when Murnau finally is forced to recognize what he has done. Strong acting performances from the supporting actors as well -- Elwes' accent wanders, as does Malkovich's, but the cast including native Germans is generally strong. Some really nice cinematography and editing.It adds to the experience to have seen the silent film first, by the way; it is well worth viewing in any case. It's available in a remastered print with a good soundtrack. "Shadow" takes a few liberties with the original film, but not important ones those night scenes were obviously not shot at night, for example .I loved this film -- two thumbs up!
This has got to be the pinnacle of movie making genius. Anyone even remotely interested in suspense, film making, vampires, German Expressionism, or simply in being entertained should make it a point to see this challenging, evocative, thought-provoking and funny film.Reviewers I've read seemed outraged at the liberties the film took with the premise of Nosferatu. I thought it was an imaginative and extremely compelling take.John Malkovich, as always, is brilliant, but nothing prepared me for how scintillating Willem Dafoe's Schreck was. The man is amazing.I'm taking my friends to <more>
A fictionalized account of the making of the classic vampire film Nosferatu, directed by F. W. Murnau, 'Shadow of the Vampire' is an interesting yet creepy film, but above all, its Willem Dafoe's Magnificent Performance as Max Schreck, that makes this film unmissable!'Shadow of the Vampire' Synopsis: The filming of Nosferatu is hampered by the fact that the star is taking his role far more seriously than what seems humanly possible.'Shadow of the Vampire' is a fictionalized account, so you shouldn't take this one too seriously. This Horror film, is creepy, <more>
atmospheric & yet funny. The Entire Story, The Entire Execution, in fact, is very convincing, even though, it won't work for the faint-hearted.Steven Katz's Screenplay is superb. It's scary, creepy, atmospheric, funny & VERY innovative. E. Elias Merhige's Direction is as Eerie as it gets! Cinematography by Lou Bogue is fabulous. Editing by Royinba Onijala is crisp. Music by Dan Jones is good. Make-Up is Marvelous.Performance-Wise: Willem Dafoe is Truly Magnificent, in an Oscar-Nominated Performance! His performance as Max Schreck, who plays Count Orlok/Count Dracula, is an astonishing embodiment, that's an Actor-Study. This is a Performance that deserves to be seen by each & every actor! John Malkovich as Frederich Wilhelm Murnau, is competent. Udo Kier as Albin Grau, is first-rate. Udo Kier as Albin Grau, is impressive. Catherine McCormack as Greta Schroeder, is worth a mention.On the whole, 'Shadow of the Vampire' is an interesting film, but Willem Dafoe's Performance is its greatest merit.
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that completely and maybe consciously defies categorization, and "Shadow of the Vampire" is a great example. It is at once a black comedy, a horror movie with a unique setting, and a biting sendup of the art and business of moviemaking. And the fact is that it wears each of these hats quite well, although not necessarily at the same time.The movie asks us to imagine: What if Max Schreck, the mysterious guy who gave what is still considered one of the best vampire performances ever, did so well because, well, he really was a vampire? The <more>
skulking creature, we are to imagine, was finagled into performing in "Nosferatu" for legendary cinema pioneer F.W. Murnau. The story then follows as the crew makes the movie dealing with all sorts of difficulties, not the least of which is the star's habit of snacking on cameramen.Among the film's many virtues is its portrayal of filmmaking in what was really its dawn as a form of art and commerce. People like me, who have trouble with silent movies may gain an additional appreciation for the work and craft that went in to them, and realize that while they may seem hokey and stylized to us now, they had a beauty and substance that was all their own, and still is.John Malkovich turns in a great performance as the visionary Murnau who, while tortured, must be a genius because he always gets it in one take . It is a characteristic Malkovich role, a rationalist given to bouts of fury, and it is as much fun to see him discourse pretentiously on the science and art of the moving image as it is to see him pitch a fit "Albon, a NATIVE has wandered into my FRAME!" .The core of this movie, however, and deservedly so, is Willem Dafoe's unforgettable portrayal of Schreck. This is not your slick-talking Anne-Rice undead-Vogue kinda vampire. Schreck is the next thing up from a rat, squatting in filth and clicking his claws, and Dafoe is able to inspire laughter as well as fear, and even pathos. He makes us imagine what a rotten existence it must be, to have eternal life alone in a rotting ruin and a withered body. He and Malkovich have some great scenes together, including a sick, hilarious moment when Schreck and Murnau try to hammer out who on the crew may or may not be snacked upon the cinematographer is necessary, it seems, but the script girl is negotiable .The movie functions best as a sendup of moviemaking, as the harried Murnau must deal with temperamental actors, unfriendly locals, blood-sucking undead, and other hazards of the movie trade. At one point, Murnau must leave to calm the investors, a scene I really wish had been included. Some of the best moments are those of the age-old creature of the night attempting to take direction and find his "motivation." Everyone is afraid of Schreck, but admire the dedication that keeps him in character all the time he's a Method actor, explains Murnau, he studied with Stanislavsky . The movie makes its point rather neatly, that filmmakers, and by extension filmmaking itself, have a way of sucking the life and blood out of you. Anyone who has ever had to shoot a movie on location will attest to this.If I have a complaint about the movie, it is only that after its extreme cleverness, it settles for a somewhat straightforward horror-style denouement. Myself, I would have thought the vampire would end up moving to Berlin and getting an agent, a swimming pool, and a meeting with Ovitz. Still, the movie clearly makes its point: an auteur driven by a mania for artistic perfection can be more of a monster than something that just lives in a cave and drinks blood from your neck.
Spoilers herein.Yet another film about film. The industry loves this stuff. So do actors when they get to play a character that acts. So do I. This time we have a very clever twist in how this is conceived, some interesting acting and a quirky director.First the conception. Actors love playing actors, because that way they can play a few characters at once. Sometimes this occurs when the character isn't actually an actor but is acting nonetheless, as in con stories. Sometimes the actor adds the levels of himself and showing how he acts. But here we have a real twist: We have Defoe, <more>
playing a character which is pretending to be an actor but is actually the character that the actor is acting. What a marvelous idea! It must have swept through Hollywood.I have no doubt that many actors rushed to get in on the idea. Superficially, the most quirky involvement is Cage as producer. Cage is intense in his acting, but among many attempts, we have never seen anything intelligent, just intense -- sometimes apt, mostly not. But he obviously wants to be smart. Watching him on the DVD talk about this, one can see how puffed up he is, and how clueless.Dafoe is the right man for the job in one respect, he plays one character exceedingly well. But that's not where the gold is. The real payoff would have been him playing with the multiple layers of self-reference. He does do some amusing stuff with his poses which one could see as him trying act like a movie version of himself. Clearly this is his goal, but its not leveraged, or extended to other worlds. Still, this is worth watching.Malkovich is another case altogether. He is like the fellow in the meeting who seems to do nothing, but if you take him out of the equation the meeting falls apart. Malkovich is cursed in that when he acts, you cannot see that he his acting. This is not as advantageous as it sounds to cast no shadow. Here's where he falls down. He gives lip service to the collapse of reality and imagination but doesn't actually live that collapse.The other dimension of this film is the director's vision, and this is related to Malkovich's problem. This director does both get and have the stuff to live the collapse. His vision is strong, competent, and transports us. It successfully bridges the genuine `other' film vision and his own modern one. The former has its anchor in surrealism, the modern one in selfawareness. Merhige races ahead in his collapsing of layers and dimensions and visions, doing what Aranofski wishes he were. Malkovich is his screen avatar and should be leading the way, but doesn't. And he bungles the key trick.That trick, which modern audiences will call the `Usual Suspects/Sixth Sense' twist, actually comes well before the end. We know that Mernau is a drug addict and that Greta is too. Also that `we don't need a writer anymore.' Also that the director is no longer in charge. The trick dimension is that the Count isn't really a vampire, just an actor that the drugs of the cast and the general aether of Berlin is a drug here make appear so. Watch when Greta sees the Count's reflection in the mirror. Everyone in the audience WILL see that reflection because it really is there. But she is convinced she doesn't, and I'll bet you were too.
One of the best movies about film I always list in Shadow of the Vampire, what a great idea! One of the biggest myths that circles around that film was the question if Max Schreck really was a vampire. He still to this day gave one of cinema's most chilling performances. Apparently he was "always in make up and character", wonder what it would have been like to try to just say hi to him, right? Then on top of all that his last name in German means "fright", it just doesn't get any better than that! So to take the idea that he really was a vampire and to translate <more>
on film what it took to make one of the most terrifying pictures in cinema, you have Shadow of the Vampire.In 1921, German director Frederich Murnau takes his cast and crew on-location in Slovakia and Poland in order to shoot Nosferatu. He informs them that the person playing the part of the vampire Count Orlok, an obscure German theater performer named Max Schreck, is a highly professional character actor, but in order to involve himself fully in his character, he will only appear among the cast and crew in full make-up and character. Schreck is there waiting for the filming team, and his appearance and behavior are truly disquieting. The cameraman soon starts feeling terrorized and sick, and has to be taken away and replaced. The other main actor, Gustav von Wangenheim, is frightened of Schreck, but then convinces himself that Schreck is simply a very good actor. Maybe too good considering he starts to eat the cast and crew as payment for "playing" the evil vampire. Guess Hollywood still hasn't come that far since then.I loved this movie, everything about it. Just like I'm sure the real Max Schreck would have received a nomination for his chilling performance, William Defoe made that up for him when he picked up the nomination. What a great performance by Defoe, one of those actors where you know he's got it in him to lose himself in the role and you're just memorized by him. His and John Malkovich's chemistry is just amazing and they play off each other so well. John pulls in a great performance as Murnau as well, so focused on the picture losing his humanity making you wonder who is the bigger monster? The make up effects were great and the whole atmosphere was just frightening. You literally feel like you're back in the time where silent films were made. Shadow of the Vampire is a terrific film and one 2000's best movies. I highly recommend it, if you're curious how a film is put together or just looking for good entertainment, the perfect mixture of dark humor and horror, Shadow of the Vampire is one not to be missed.9/10
Absolutely stunning and fascinating ! (by Coventry)
This movie is a true relief for everyone who thought the genre of horror and mystery was dead and buried. It feels good to see that it's still possible to create movies like this. Even though the plot is rather simple, the movie seems to be very original and innovating. The basic idea behind this movie is so simple that it is - in fact - brilliant and it makes me wonder why nobody has thought about this earlier. The movie is completely based on the very early horror milestone "Nosferatu, ein symphony des grauens". Legendary actor Max Schrek is portrayed here like a REAL vampire <more>
who regularly takes a bite out of his crew. Director F.W. Murnau knows about this but finishing his movie is a higher priority to him than to sacrifice a few people. This theme makes it of course a must for the ancient horror fans. Lots of footage and trivia of the 1922 masterpiece are shown and that's a real extra value for true cinema buffs ! But of course, this movie reaches far above average thanks to the brilliant performances. A totally disguised Willem Dafoe is absolutely amazing in his role of Max Shreck. It's like looking at the real Schrek...the resemblance is terrific. His appearance especially the long nails give you the creeps whenever he's on screen and his voice haunts your head every time he says something. Dafoe never gives away a bad performance but this one is extraordinary. And of course,the same can be said about John Malkovich...his portrayal of director F.W. Murnau is extremely realistic and believable. He plays Murnau as the man who slowly goes insane because he tries to be too perfect. An amazing performance !! There aren't many shock effects to detect in this movie but that's rather normal, right ? After all, it's more like a costume-drama than it is horror. The lack of exiting scenes is made up by the constant presence of tension and an extremely appropriate atmosphere. Also, a perfect image of Eastern Europe in the 1920's is presented to the audience. All these aspects make a much better movie then just some ordinary slashing and slicing throats. A must see !!
This movie was truly disturbing... ...but not in graphics and horror. This movie was disturbing in how it captured the true evil of the legendary vampire and the unsettledness of a set that has been portrayed by a perfectionist. A movie that captures such evil and psychosis possesses the true, dark, nightmarish atmosphere that even the best of horror films lack.Willem Dafoe has given his best in this film. His dark aura that gave life to another villain he would later play -- the Green Goblin -- was perfect for the part of a deranged vampire who yearns from loneliness and hatred of his <more>
decomposing body. A being who is haunted by the loss of his past. Of his inability to make others like him, and be lonely no more. And yet, he is also a being that is always one step ahead of his demise, and manages to evade death and prevent his victims from escape with the same cunningness that would give him the part of one of the most evil of comic-book villains.Though I've seen little of Malkovich, I thought that he played perfectly the part of the perfectionist. A perfectionist that is possessed by the desire of the perfect film that captures great evil and makes it's audience actually experience the feeling of a great dark presence. A film that 'doesn't make people say 'You should have been there', but that 'We have been there.'" A director whose desire of perfection puts the lives of even his most loyal of crew in the path of Death itself. A Death that has desires nowhere near as dark as the being that called upon it.Such a film is nightmarish and heart-throbbing just by Shrek stepping from the hallow hallway and into the moonlight to welcome his 'guest'.Overall: perfection...Rating: 9 out of 10. A truly disturbing film with atmosphere that remains dark, even during the day...
An enjoyable piece of filmmaking. (by chrisbrown6453)
Shadow of the takes the viewer to 1921 to "witness" the making of F. W. Murnau's silent classic vampire film Nosferatu. Shadow of the Vampire does not pretend to be a documentary; it is a highly stylized, fictional work that delves into its very own imaginative speculations about a filmmaker's creative process.Having assembled his crew, Murnau John Malkovich travels to a small town in Czechoslovakia, where he intends to recreate before his camera the story of Bram Stoker's "Dracula". Set on creating the most realistic vampire film, Murnau secretly recruits a <more>
real vampire Willem Dafoe , promising to recompense the creature with leading lady Greta Catherine McCormack . Murnau cautiously introduces the vampire to his producer Albin Grau Udo Kier and scriptwriter Henrick Galeen John Gillet as "Max Schreck", a truly professional "method actor" trained by Stanislavsky. Schreck performs his scenes suspiciously well, only appearing on the set at night and in character, keeping his end of the bargain with the director. Soon, however, his blood thirst takes over and he fearlessly threatens to eliminate, one by one, Murnau's most dispensable crew members.Shadow of the Vampire stems from the premise that its protagonist, the fictional Murnau Malkovich , must hire a real vampire in order to ensure a truly authentic representation of the vampire character, "Count Orlock", for his film Nosferatu. The viewer who seeks a more accurate portrayal of the making of the real Nosferatu may find this premise strained and far-fetched, and may even consider the film's ensuing humor a bit aimless. However, Shadow of the Vampire integrates the humorous premise to its metaphorical exploration of the artistic process and of the inevitable struggle between the star, the director and the crew. In one scene, Schreck tries to secure his interests --a new victim-- by negotiating with Murnau. He reflects: "I don't think we need the writer any longer." Aside from the film's complex treatment of the film within the film and of the character within the character where Shadow of the Vampire re-presents Nosferatu, and Shadow's cast plays Nosferatu's cast , the film's most enjoyable aspect is its careful reconstruction of specific Nosferatu scenes. When demonstrating how Murnau shoots these well-known scenes, Shadow's own shots shift between black & white and color; from a full-frame to one enclosed by an iris. Shadow's recreation of the classic scenes are often accompanied by Murnau's off-screen voice-over instructions to the actors, who in turn stop in mid-shot, enter, or exit the frame. These choices offer a fantastic depiction of silent film technique, and they as well add new life and a sort of magical dimension to the original Nosferatu scenes. Undoubtedly, Shadow of the Vampire may be most fully appreciated by the viewer that has already developed a sensitive appreciation for Nosferatu's unforgettable images. Still, Shadow of the Vampire may be enjoyed as well by those fascinated by filmmaking or --as Shadow's Murnau put it-- by "the science of the creation of memory."