I finally finished working my way through Nosferatu
, which I've been watching in stages because I didn't find it engaging enough to watch straight through. Granted, I'm watching it through modern eyes, but it felt very awkward and broad to me, playing more like a comedy than a horror movie with the over-the-top hamming and mugging, the exaggerated makeup, the crude stop-motion animation that might've seemed scary at the time but felt more like something out of Sesame Street
to my eyes, and so on. It didn't help that the actor playing the ineffectual hero reminded me of a cross between Harpo Marx and Bob Denver. (Although the leading lady was kind of striking.)
And the story structure was very awkward, with many important plot points just described in text narration rather than shown, and a seemingly arbitrary set of choices about what parts of the story to actually depict. Not to mention that most of what the two lead characters did in the course of the film was to read a book about vampires and react to what they read. I've never before seen a movie that was mainly told in prose.
It particularly bothered me that Orlok (or is it Nosferatu?) was able to have some kind of mystical influence on Hutter's wife and boss before he even came to Wisborg. The "Knock" character, who was the Renfield equivalent, never even met Nosferatu/Orlok at any point in the story. He just had this random parallel plot going on that had no direct bearing on the main story, such as it was. Plus the film made this big deal of playing up Professor Bulwer the Paracelsian and establishing his expertise in predatory plants and microbes, and then never really had that play a role in the story. Bulwer was summoned for the climax and was there in the closing scene, but didn't actually do anything.
Granted, this was an "Expressionist" film and was thus meant to be stylized, symbolic, and surreal, but some trace of plot coherence doesn't seem incompatible with that. I mean, Metropolis
is Expressionist too, and it's a masterpiece. This is a mess.