"The capital film of silent cinema. From Bram Stoker's Dracula, the immortal story of Nosferatu, the undead who sows the plague, absorbs life forces, and attends to the balance of the universe, until a female sacrifice causes dawn to rise over the liberated city. On a formal level, the film moves away from expressionism and transcends it: by its emphasis on Nature, by the impressive variety of real exteriors that heighten its magical romanticism. Nosferatu is first of all a metaphysical poem in which the forces of death show the inexorable vocation to aspire to and absorb the forces of life, without any moralistic Manichaeism intervening in the description of this struggle" (Jacques Lourcelles).
Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe, later known as Murnau, was born in Westphalia in 1888 into a middle-class family. Unaccustomed to discipline, he soon left university studies for Max Reinhardt's Deutsches Theater company. An aviator, then a prisoner, during the Great War, his career as a filmmaker began in the Romantic tradition, with sentimental or fantastic works. In twenty-two years, he directed between Europe and the United States twenty-two films, including Nosferatu, The Last Laugh, Faust, and Aurora.
An experimenter in innovative techniques, Murnau is the forerunner of a cinema that combines human drive with the exasperating symbolism of unfolding doom.