Title: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Gravens (1922)
Director: F.W. Murnau
Notable Actor: Max Schreck (whose name in translation means "fear!")
Nosferatu was the first silent movie I watched and enjoyed. The music, the cinematography, the plot - all of it worked together to create a beautiful film. From the first introduction to Nosferatu (who upon seeing Hutter's wife's picture mouths "Is this your wife, what a lovely throat" you can see just that scene here: http://http//www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8IT4aAouus - classic) to his iconic rise of the coffin.
Nosferatu grips the viewer throughout. The fact that it is a silent film actually helps this movie. With only the eerie score that is played along as the sole source of sound context, the tension builds upon itself in such a way that the first time I watched it I was actually scared. Perhaps you don't think this is such a great feat (and, considering the fact that I wouldn't take a shower after watching Psycho in the 6th grade, perhaps you are right).
However, just look at that photo above. What! Tell me that you wouldn't be frightened if, after you looked in the mirror, seeing only yourself, you turned around to see him standing (or lurking is probably more accurate) behind you, it wouldn't be terrifying. In Nosferatu, you will not see a vampire who sparkles or just wants to love you or your daughter. Rather, Nosferatu is brutal and murderous.
When I first watched this film (and even upon my other viewings), my favorite scene is one where Nosferatu is sailing from his distant land to your home (yes, he is coming for you!), and slowly begins killing off the crew, one boatman at a time. This scene, or really series of scenes, is gripping because you literally know what's coming, yet you can't help but wish, hope, and maybe suspect that ONE will survive.
Of course, anyone who watches Nosferatu connects it right away to Bram Stoker's Dracula. When the movie was created, the Stoker family noticed it as well and where NOT pleased. Thus, Nosferatu barely got out of the gate and almost every copy was destroyed. Also, I have been led to believe that we may not even have a completed copy as the director desired.
Happily, Nosferatu can be found on youtube in its entirety because it is now public domain: http://http//www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcyzubFvBsA. It is an interesting look into horror before one could actually hear the proverbial girl scream. Until next time; go enjoy some art!