Posted on 10/22/12 10:45 AM
A novel approach to the real-life story of German director F. W. Murnau (played by John Malkovich) and his attempt at adapting Bram Stoker's "Dracula" to the screen. On this relatively simple level, as a demonstration of the mechanics behind a silent movie production of the time, this film is already fascinating. Behind the scenes of the seminal vampire icon of "Nosferatu" makes it irresistible. Director E. Elias Merhige has an instictive eye for gothic creepiness, while keeping period detail as faithful as possible. The hook is pretense that 'Max Schrek' wasn't merely the odd, verminous looking stage actor he was in real life, but an actual bloodsucker from several centuries prior, somehow procured and coerced into taking part in the production for extra realism. Willem DaFoe earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for this performance. The thematic twist, a brilliant one that alludes to Michael Powell's "Peeping Tom", is that Murnau is the true vampire, and his camera is the bloodsucking fang, promising the 'immortality' of the image in exchange for the actor's emotional sacrifice.