Clever, engaging, and boosted by the sublime casting of Willem Dafoe as Nosferatu actor Max Schreck, Shadow of the Vampire is a film full of good ideas that are only partially developed. Its premise is ripe with possibilities, but the movie's too slight to register much impact, so you're left to relish its delightful performances and director E. Elias Merhige's affectionately tongue-in-cheek homage to a landmark of German silent cinema. John Malkovich is aptly loony as the eccentric director F.W. Murnau, whose passion in filming the 1922 classic Nosferatu leads to the extreme casting of Schreck as the vampire, a vision of evil who, in this movie's delightfully twisted imagination, actually is a vampire, sucking the blood of cast and crewmembers who've dismissed Schreck as an overzealous method actor. As these on-set maladies and "accidents" continue, Schreck wields greater control over Murnau, who descends into a kind of obsessive art-for-art's-sake madness until diva costar Greta Schroeder (Catherine McCormack, doing wonderful work) is served up as the actor's ultimate motivation. Merhige and his actors (including Cary Elwes, as intrepid cameraman Fritz Wagner) have great fun with this ghastly escapade, and the humor is kept delicately subtle to balance the movie's artistic aspirations. To that end, Dafoe is just right, his bald pate and gaunt features a perfect match for the mysterious Schreck, his grimace and talon-like fingers suggesting a human vulture on the prowl. Likewise, the re-creation of Nosferatu's expressionist style is both fanciful and brilliantly authentic. Too bad, then, that this movie suffers a mild case of vampiric anemia; if it shared the depth and richness of, say, Ed Wood, this might have been a cult classic for the ages. --Jeff Shannon
It made me sad.
Because Dracula had no servants.
I think you missed the point of the book, Count Orlock.
Dracula hasn't had servants in 400 years and then a man comes to his ancestral home, and he must convince him that he... that he is like the man. He has to feed him, when he himself hasn't eaten food in centuries. Can he even remember how to buy bread? How to select cheese and wine? And then he remembers the rest of it. How to prepare a meal, how to make a bed. He remembers his first glory, his armies, his retainers, and what he is reduced to. The loneliest part of the book comes... when the man accidentally sees Dracula setting his table.
Our battle, our struggle, is to create art. Our weapon is the moving picture. Because we have the moving picture, our paintings will grow and recede; our poetry will be shadows that lengthen and conceal; our light will play across living faces that laugh and agonize; and our music will linger and finally overwhelm, because it will have a context as certain as the grave. We are scientists engaged in the creation of memory... but our memory will neither blur nor fade.
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