Review by Darrel Manson


This page was created on January 19, 2001
This page was last updated on May 16, 2005

Directed by E. Elias Merhige
Written by Steven Katz

John Malkovich .... F.W. Murnau
Willem Dafoe .... Max Schreck
Udo Kier .... Albin Grau
Cary Elwes .... Fritz Wagner
Catherine McCormack .... Greta Schroeder
Eddie Izzard .... Gustav von Wangenheim
Aden Gillett .... Henrick Galeen
Ronan Vibert .... Wolfgang Muller
Ingeborga Dapkunaite .... Micheline
Nicholas Elliott .... Paul
Derek Kueter .... Reporter
Sophie Langevin .... Elke
Tania Marzen .... Eva
Myriam Muller .... Maria
Orian Williams .... Hans

Produced by Paul Brooks (executive), Nicolas Cage, Richard Johns (co-producer), Jeff Levine, Jean-Claude Schlim (line), Orian Williams (associate), Jimmy de Brabant (co-producer)
Original music by Dan Jones
Cinematography by Lou Bogue
Film Editing by Chris Wyatt

Rated R

USA - December 29th 2000, USA - February 2nd 200
Australia - January 25th 2001, Belgium - August 30th 2000
France - November 29th 2000, Italy - October 2000

QuickTime (Lo-Res)
QuickTime (Med-Res)
QuickTime (Hi-Res)

He got the movie he wanted, but...

Click to enlargeF. W. Murnau (John Malkovich) is struggling to create his silent classic NOSFERATU on location in Eastern Europe. The director is obsessed with making this the most authentic vampire movie ever. To that end, Murnau has employed a real vampire, Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe), explaining to the crew that he is the ultimate of that new breed, the "method actor" -- trained by Stanislavsky himself. Schreck will appear only in character and only at night. If Schreck delivers a great performance -- and keeps his more unseemly urges under control -- Murnau has promised him the delectable neck of the film's star, Greta (Catherine McCormack).

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeClick to enlarge
It soon becomes obvious that Schreck is unwilling or unable to control his bloodlust. During the very first night shoot, cinematographer Wolfgang Muller (Ronan Vibert) mysteriously takes ill and collapses. Murnau takes him to a hospital in Berlin and looks for a replacement. During the break, producer Albin Grau (Udo Kier) and scriptwriter Henrick Galeen (John Gillet) are sharing some schnapps when the strange Schreck joins them, answering their questions "in character." He tells them about his wife who died in childbirth but still returned to him at nights, and made him what he is now.
Click to enlargeClick to enlargeClick to enlarge
As the director returns with a new photographer, Fritz Wagner (Cary Elwes,) Schreck continues his silent assault on the crew. Galeen realizes the truth behind Schreck's "method acting," but too late. Having gone to such extraordinary lengths in the name of authenticity, Murnau must engage in a battle of wills with his monstrous male lead -- the ultimate in demanding movie stars. As Murnau finally admits the truth to the crew, they realize they are stranded on an island. Their only hope of survival is to finish the film and let Schreck take Greta. 
Click to enlargeClick to enlargeClick to enlarge

As Murnau continues to be obsessed with the making of Nosferatu, he is willing to put up with more and more destruction from Schreck. In the final scene, as Murnau keeps the camera rolling in the midst of death and destruction, the scripture that came to mind was "For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?" (NRSV) He got the movie he wanted, but at what cost to others and to himself?

Pastor, Artesia Christian Church, Artesia, CA

Shadow of the Vampire © 2000 Lions Gate Films, All rights reserved.