I was recently invited to a very special screening of Nosferatu at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. A friend’s uncle had written a new musical score for the silent film, and he performed the piano with the symphony. I went because I’d never seen Nosferatu and because there was this cool connection with the composer.
In spite of the fact I’ve edited three volumes of Blood in the Rain, I’m not the biggest vampire fan. I mean, I enjoy vampires–Ann Rice, Buffy, Angel–but when I got to the hall, it was apparent I barely qualify as an actual FAN. There were people there in full cos-play–costumes from Nosferatu, Dracula etc. And lots and lots of goths. Apparently, there is quite the cult following.
We’d had dinner with my friend and her uncle, so I’d heard some of his concerns about the performance ahead of time. They’d had one run-through of the music with the movie on stage, and he, as the composer of the score, had a few concerns about how the performance would go. As the movie started, I was worried I’d be looking for mistakes.
Once the movie was on screen, however, I was totally lost in the experience. If there were any goofs, I missed them. The movie itself is considered a classic. It’s one of the first horror films and over a hundred years old. I had to remind myself over and over what it must have been like to watch this film over a hundred years ago. Before sound, before color, before computer graphics. There are a couple of special effects that, at the time, must have been genius. Now, almost any teen could pull them off with their iPhone.
The plot was obviously ripped off of Dracula and there’s a whole history of lawsuits between Stoker’s widow and Nosferatu’s creator. At one time, every copy of Nosferatu was ordered destroyed. Fortunately, a few copies had made it to the United States and were saved from destruction.
The overall experience was delightful. The music was written for the movie, and worked brilliantly to underscore what was happening on the stage. I’m not sure what renting Nosferatu will get you in terms of the score, but this was definitely the way to see it.