Feature Drama | 1920 | Sound | B/W
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Early Dracula the vampire film. 'Nosferatu'
Two men advance on horseback down a tree-lined country path leading a small carriage. They arrive at a white house with a tiled roof and bring the cart to a halt. A man (Jonathon Harker) jumps out of the carriage, he is a real estate agent who is to meet with Count Dracula. He picks up his bags and wanders into the inn they are stopping at for the night. He sits inside at a long table, a woman in a striped dress brings him a drink and he chats to her. As he mentions the name Dracula, the bartender looks up, alarmed. The other customers gathered there look around fearfully. The inn keeper walks over to Harker's table. Leaning over to talk to him, he warns him to stay away from the castle. In a rocky landscape, a hyena wanders around, in a predatory manner. Back at the inn, Harker laughs off the stories and shakes the inn keepers hand. In his room, he leans out of the window, rubbing his arms in the cold. He closes the shutters and wanders across the room to fetch the candle, which he sets down by the bed, picking up a book -'The Book of Vampires' Harker shakes his head and reads on -"Prays on the living whose blood he must have for his own sustenance…
He is powerless by day and must return before dawn to his grave or a coffin containing earth from his native land." The morning comes and Harker wakes up, stretching. He goes to peer out the window. In a hilly landscape, wild horses gallop over the fields. He looks on, smiling. He takes the 'Book of Vampires' and laughs, throwing it to the ground. He strips down his nightshirt and ducks his head in the wash basin. Outside the inn, the carriage waits for him. They trot down a country track, on either side pine forests stretch up. They gallop over a rickety bridge. The sky, the sun sinks below the horizon. The coach comes to a halt. Looking up, Harker sees the castle which is built high up into the rock. He takes his bags and the carriage drives off. He wanders along sunlit paths. Suddenly, a cart driving at high speed pulls up beside him. It stops and a sinister figure sits, a cloak pulled up around his shoulders and a hat pulled down over his eyes. He motions Harker to get into the cart. Harker looks on in fear then climbs in. The figure cracks the whip and the carriage drives off at high speed. Harker leans out of the window in fear. The carriage drives up a hill in negative. They come to a halt and Harker gets out. He looks up at the driver who, staring down at him, points up at the castle with his whip. Harker walks up to the heavy castle gates which fly open as he approaches. He steps back in fear, then walks in, the gates slam shut behind him. From a dark archway a thin figure, dressed in a black suit and hat, emerges. Harker walks up and nervously takes off his hat, saying "Count Dracula?" The Count, his hands clenched on his chest, beckons Harker into the dark doorway. He hesitates then follows. In an empty dining room, Harker sits eating. The count sits at his side.
Harker watches as he avidly looks over a document. Harker, cutting off a slice of bread, looks across to see the Count looking in fear at the clock which reads six. Hawker, distracted, presses the bread knife into his thumb and a drop of blood gathers. He goes to wipe it with a cloth, but the Count holds out his hands to stop him. He clenches Harker's hand to lick off the blood. Harker backs away in fear. He wakes up, sat in an armchair by a fireplace. He looks around in shock, then stretches. On the dining table is a large breakfast. The Count is nowhere to be seen, the rooms are all empty. Harker wanders down the front steps. The castle from a distance. The sky clouds over. As night falls, the Count emerges from a dark doorway. He sits at a table, looking over documents, Harker stands at his side. The Count demands more from him, and as he rifles through his bag, a photograph of his wife falls out. The Count, ignoring the papers, fixes his eyes on the locket. He scoops it up in a clawed hand, peering at it closely. He points at the face with a long fingernail, Harker snatches it from him, hiding it in his jacket pocket. The Count, looking up, says "That old mansion seems quite satisfactory. We shall be neighbors." He signs the document and Harker stuffs it into his bag. In his room, Hawker stands kissing the photograph of his wife. As he packs his luggage, ready to leave, he finds the 'Book of the Vampires'. Looking around nervously, he starts to read.
The clock downstairs strikes six and Harker hides the book in his jacket and opens the door to his room. He looks out to see the count, bald headed, standing watching from the end of the corridor. Harker recoils in fear, slamming the door shut. He backs away in fear and cowers by his bed. He looks across to see the door to his room opening. The hall outside is empty. Harker looks back and the Count creeps forward slowly. His ears are pointed, his arms reach down to his knees, his long fingernails hang down. Harker hides under the bed clothes. The shadow of the Counts outstretched hands moves over him. The Counts shadow creeps up the wall behind Harker, who lies still, his eyes closed. The window flies open and the candle blows out. The shadow recedes and the Count floats out, the door shutting behind him. A dark landscape, cloudy skies. Harker, rising, rushes into the dining room. He has decided to find the Counts grave, which will prove that he's a vampire. He runs down a set of steps and, coming to an old iron door, rattles it. He prises the door open and enters. Inside, a heavy coffin sits on a pedestal. Harker walks up to it hesitantly. He looks through a gap to see the Counts sleeping face. He recoils in fear, then charges forwards, pushing off the lid. The Count lies still, his hands crossed. Harker flattens himself against a wall. The castle. The dark landscape. The castle has become a prison for Harker. He lies on the floor of his room. Hearing a bustling in the courtyard below, he sticks his head out the window. Below, the Count, at great speed, loads coffins onto a cart. He puts the last one on, then climbs into it. The lid seals itself, and the carriage drives off. A raft sails down the river, filled with the Counts cargo. At a sea port, men load the boxes onto a ship.
Curious, they prise the lid off one, to see that it is filled to the brim with dirt. From a distance, the ship moves onwards, its sails unfurled. The rigging, the sea stretching behind. In a bunk, a sailor lies, he jumps as he looks at the coffins stored below. His ship mates walk in, concerned, they give him a swig of whisky and take his pulse. He is listless and weak. The ship, sails billowing. The captain sits smoking a pipe. The first mate staggers in to tell him that others have come down with the same strange illness. The captain and ships mate wrap up a parcel. They are burying the last of their men at sea. They throw the bundle overboard. The mate reaches for an axe, determined to find out what is really in their cargo hold. He goes down and cuts a hole in one coffin. From it run streams of rats. As he goes to chop again, the count rises up. The mate is frozen with fear and, dropping the axe, runs outside. The captain watches, confused, as the mate cowers in fear, then throws himself overboard. The captain at the bow, ties a rope around his waist, ready to jump in and fish out the mate, but he freezes as he sees the shadow of the Count advancing. The Count creeps forward, the rigging stretches up behind him. Harker, at the castle, has fashioned a rope out of sheets, he lowers himself from the window and drops to the ground. He wakes in a hospital bed, the villagers have been looking after him. In the hospital room a nurse holds his hand and he staggers out of bed. She looks after him sadly as he walks out. He leads his horse through rocky countryside and across a fast running stream. In their home, Harker's wife, dressed in black, with ringlets around her face, looks up sadly. Their home from the outside, Harker's carriage pulls up and he jumps out. He runs to the door and she greets him, her arms outstretched. A view of the city across a stretch of water. The ship slowly sails past.
The captain lies on the deck, two marks in his neck. The ship sails on. A tarpaulin pulls back and a trapdoor opens. The counts head emerges from below deck. He holds onto the lip of the hatch with a clawed hand. He trots along the street carrying a coffin. Rats crawl out of the ships trapdoor. The Count, looking around, walks carrying the coffin. He arrives at a grassed sunlit square and walks to the same set of houses that Harker and his wife occupy. Close up of his face looking around and smiling. At the back of the derelict house, a river runs, he sails a small boat up loaded with his coffins. He carries one onto the river bank and up to the door. The building towers above. The sea rolls in. Four men carry a coffin out of a house. A sickly family looking out of a window, watch it go.
Nina, Harker's wife looks sadly out of the window. She collapses into a chair, her hair curled about her face, and picks up her husbands book 'The Book of the Vampires'. She reads - "Only a woman can break its frightful spell - a woman pure in heart - who will offer her blood freely to Nosferatu and will keep the vampire by her side until the sun rises" Reading this, she looks up, fear and determination on her face. A view up a long cobbled street, lined with houses. A row of coffins are marched down. Nina watches the procession. Her house from the outside. She lies in bed. Suddenly she sits up in fear. The Count stands watching her from the window. She gets up, breathing heavily. In a trance she goes to the window. The Count raises his hands. Nina collapses, weak, then stands up and flings the window open. The Count stands at the entrance to her house. The door opens. Nina covers her face. The shadow of the Count jerks up the stairs. Nina cries out in fear. The hand of the Count's shadow reaches for the doorknob. Inside, Nina backs away. She curls up in the bed, her eyes wide. She turns her head away as the shadow of the clawed hand passes over her. It clutches, forming a fist at her heart and she writhes in pain. A wind blows through the room, the curtains billow. The Count crouches, watching Nina's peaceful face. The house from the outside. The Count, sleeping with his hand on Nina's head awakens, hearing a cockerel crowing outside. He raises his head slowly. Through the window, the sun rises against the buildings. He stands up in fear, clutching at his heart. He walks across the room, but the sun hits him and, holding out his hand, he vanishes, leaving a plume of smoke. Nina, looking up from the bed, closes her eyes. The sea rolls in. Across the fields, the horses run.
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