In the small town of Wisborg, a young man named Hutter (von Wangenheim), is dispatched by his employer to meet Count Orlock (Shreck), who is seeking property in the area. Hutter sets off on what he hopes will be a great opportunity. Things do not turn out as he hopes, however, as Orlock buys the house offered and comes to claim it, wreaking havoc and pestilence in his path.
Murnau's classic vampire film is as valid today as it was when it was first released nearly 80 years ago. While it clearly moves at a slower pace than most modern films, it is still one of the most beautiful and atmospheric horror pictures ever made. Based on Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (and made without buying the rights, hence the name change), the beauty of it is in its simplicity. It relies on implied menace, skilful editing, and one of the most famous vampire representations in screen history by Max Shreck. His seminal performance as the Count is the key: skeletal and inhuman, it is one of the lasting vampire images for many people.
Not necessarily Murnau's best film, this is still a masterpiece of film making with real power and incredibly strong imagery. A joy to watch from start to finish, not to mention terrifying in places, this is one of the ultimate vampire films, and one which has generated a host of imitators.
Read about the making of "Nosferatu".
Read a review of "Shadow of the Vampire", which is based on the making of "Nosferatu".
Read about the 1979 re-make of "Nosferatu".