Silent Expression

It seems a little sad that our culture is not longer terrified by subtlety. We require lavish special effects and gratuitous amounts of blood and gore to be horrified and entertained. At the same time, gobs of dialogue is required to make a film interesting. I was recently reminded of our modern cinematic prerequisites while watching the classic horror film Nosferatu, which exhibits nothing close to what we call cinema today. I understand that there is a vast technological gap between films of the early twentieth century and today. However, beauty will forever lie in cinematic simplicity. In its day Nosferatu instilled terror not with elaborate effects, but with elaborate imagination. The audience may not have been fully aware at that point in history with what exactly Count Orlok is, which only adds to the illusion. Count Orlok represents more than a visual terror. He embodies the worst attributes of humanity. Where ever he goes death, disease, and decay are certain to follow, but how is this translated on screen? Orlok’s physical attributes are far from human. He movements are stiff. When he enters a doorway it is as if he is a statue, which has inhabited that particular space for centuries. He is the antithesis to humanity. To add to the terror of Orlok, the entire film casts an eerie hue. The long shots of dusk, the castle in the darkness, and the depictions of solitude all force the audience to explore the recesses of the shadow world and acknowledge Orlok-like being’s possible existence. Few films today have the ability to play on the imagination, because they have become bogged down with complexity. The most terrifying aspect of humanity exists within one’s own mind and when cinema plays on the fears that exist within the imagination, as Nosferatu does, true horror is revealed.

    • Ka Riley
    • February 10th, 2011

    Imagination used to be much more important than it seems to be today. Sigh. i liked Nosferatu, too, and i also liked that not everything was spelled out for me.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

You must be logged in to post a comment.