To watch F.W. Murnau's ``Nosferatu'' (1922) is to see the vampire movie before it had really seen itself. Here is the story of Dracula before it was buried alive in cliches, jokes, TV skits, cartoons and more than 30 other films. The film is in awe of its material. It seems to really believe in vampires.
Max Schreck, who plays the vampire, avoids most of the theatrical touches that would distract from all the later performances, from Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee to Frank Langella to Gary Oldman. The vampire should come across not like a flamboyant actor but like a man suffering from a dread curse. Schreck plays the count more like an animal than a human being; the art direction by Murnau's collaborator, Albin Grau, gives him bat ears, clawlike nails and fangs that are in the middle of his mouth like a rodent's, instead of on the sides like on a Halloween mask.
In the long run Murnau was the making of Stoker, because ``Nosferatu'' inspired dozens of other Dracula films, none of them as artistic or unforgettable, although Werner Herzog's 1979 version with Klaus Kinski comes closest. ``Nosferatu'' is a better title, anyway, than ``Dracula.'' Say ``Dracula'' and you smile. Say ``Nosferatu'' and you've eaten a lemon.
In a sense, Murnau's film is about all of the things we worry about at 3 in the morning--cancer, war, disease, madness. It suggests these dark fears in the very style of its visuals. Much of the film is shot in shadow. The corners of the screen are used more than is ordinary; characters lurk or cower there, and it's a rule of composition that tension is created when the subject of a shot is removed from the center of the frame. Murnau's special effects add to the disquieting atmosphere: the fast motion of Orlok's servant, the disappearance of the phantom coach, the manifestation of the count out of thin air, the use of a photographic negative to give us white trees against a black sky.
Is Murnau's ``Nosferatu'' scary in the modern sense? Not for me. I admire it more for its artistry and ideas, its atmosphere and images, than for its ability to manipulate my emotions like a skillful modern horror film. It knows none of the later tricks of the trade, like sudden threats that pop in from the side of the screen. But ``Nosferatu'' remains effective: It doesn't scare us, but it haunts us. It shows not that vampires can jump out of shadows, but that evil can grow there, nourished on death. — Roger Ebert
Sat March 5, 2016, 7:30 only, Muenzinger Auditorium
10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission.
$7 w/UCB student ID,
$7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.
Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the
Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters
along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.
Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus
International Film Series
(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.
First Person Cinema
(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.
C.U. Film Program
(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil
Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.
C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts
Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.
Thank you, sponsors!
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Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show.
With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).
IFS tickets are only available at the door on day of show. With 400 seats and
rare sell-outs, by arriving a bit early you're almost certainly guaranteed a
seat. We're happy to save seats for anyone traveling from afar--just let us
know how many people are in your group by email. Tickets go on sale 30 minutes
Virtual screenings from independent distributors support the IFS through revenue
sharing. When you watch these theatrical releases at home, the distributor will
split the proceeds 50/50 with the IFS. Prices vary.
First Person Cinema events screen in the VAC basement auditorium on select Mondays.
Celebrating Stan screens in ATLAS 100. Admission is free.
IFS screens films in Muenzinger Auditorium, west of Folsom Football Stadium.
Admission (unless otherwise noted):
$9 general admission,
$7 w/UCB student ID,
$7 for senior citizens.
10 films for $60 with punch card.
We give a $1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet, and you can see movies for
free on your birthday, or if you are assisting someone in a wheelchair. Credit
cards are accepted at the door.
If you want to be guaranteed a seat please arrive early. Tickets go on sale
30 minutes before showtime.