Shadow of the Vampire

Shadow of the Vampire

Infobox Film | name =Shadow of the Vampire
caption = Promotional movie poster for the film

director = E. Elias Merhige
producer = Nicolas Cage
Jeff Levine
Richard L. Johns
Jimmy de Brabant
writer = Steven A. Katz
starring = John Malkovich
Willem Dafoe
Udo Kier
Cary Elwes
Catherine McCormack
Eddie Izzard
John Aden Gillet
cinematography =
music = Dan Jones
editing = Chris Wyatt
distributor = Lions Gate
released = France:
May 15, 2000 (premiere at Cannes)
United States:
29 December, 2000 (limited)
runtime = 92 min
language = English
budget = $8,000,000 (estimated)
amg_id = 1:201815
imdb_id = 0189998

"Shadow of the Vampire" is a movie that opened in the United States on December 29, 2000. It was directed by E. Elias Merhige and written by Steven A. Katz, and it stars John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe and Udo Kier. The film is a fictionalized account of the making of the classic vampire film "Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens", directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, in which the film crew begin to suspect that their lead actor is not all that he seems.


The film is set in 1922. German director F. W. Murnau takes his Berlin-based cast and crew on-location in Czechoslovakia and Poland in order to shoot "Nosferatu", an unauthorized version of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel "Dracula". He informs them that the person playing the part of the vampire Count Orlok, an obscure German theater performer called Max Schreck, is a highly professional method actor, but in order to involve himself fully in his character, he will only appear among the cast and crew in full make-up and character.

The main setting is an old castle in Czechoslovakia. Schreck is there waiting for the filming team, and his appearance and behavior are truly disquieting. The cameraman soon starts feeling terrorized and sick, and has to be taken away and replaced. The other main actor is frightened of Schreck, but then convinces himself that he is simply a very good actor.

On one occasion, two members of the crew are sharing a drink under the stars, and Schreck approaches. They invite him to join them, and Schreck drinks with them. Jokingly they ask about his vampirism and Schreck reveals he is a real vampire, centuries old. When questioned, he tells the crew that he is so old, he cannot remember how he became a vampire, and cannot create more of his own kind. A bat flies by and Schreck catches it with a quick hand and bites it, ecstatically sucking blood from its body. The others are left impressed by what they still assume is talented acting.

As it turns out, Murnau has made a deal with a true vampire, in order to make his film absolutely realistic. Schreck has been promised the main actress Greta Schroeder as prize, provided he fulfills his role until the end of the filming. But the vampire is frequently uncooperative until eventually the entire production, stranded on an island in the North Sea, is at his mercy.

In the end, Schreck kills Greta Schroeder and the crew before being exposed to sunlight and dying, while Murnau, who has now lost his mind, finishes the film.


The film borrows the techniques of silent films, including the use of intertitles to explain elided action and iris lenses. The scenes of "Nosferatu" being filmed are shot in black and white.

The real life Schreck was a German stage and film actor who appeared in several movies, including "Die Finanzen des Grossherzogs".

Members of the online community "The HollyWood Stock Exchange" were able to donate a small sum towards the film's production, in exchange for listing their name on the DVD release of the film as "Virtual producers".


* John MalkovichF. W. Murnau, the director of "Nosferatu".
* Willem DafoeMax Schreck, who plays Count Orlok/Count Dracula.
* Udo KierAlbin Grau, the producer and art director and costume designer.
* Cary ElwesFritz Arno Wagner, the cinematographer.
* Catherine McCormackGreta Schroeder, who plays Ellen Hutter/Mina Harker.
* Eddie IzzardGustav von Wangenheim, who plays Thomas Hutter/Jonathan Harker.
* John Aden GilletHenrik Galeen, the screenwriter.
* Nicholas Elliott – Paul
* Ronan Vibert – Muller
* Sophie Langevin – Elke
* Myriam Muller – Maria
* Milos Hlavac – Innkeeper (as Milos Hlavak)
* Marja-Leena Junker – Innkeeper's wife
* Derek Kueter – Reporter #1
* Norman Golightly – Reporter #2
* Patrick Hastert – Reporter #3
* Sascha Ley – Drunken woman
* Marie-Paule von Roesgen – Old woman (as Marie-Paul Van Roesgen)
* Jean-Claude Croes – Murnau's crew (as Jean Claude Cross)
* Christophe Chrompin – Murnau's crew
* Graham Johnston – Murnau's crew
* Orian Williams – Murnau's crew
* Radica Jovicic – Murnau's crew (uncredited)
* Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė – Micheline (uncredited)


"Shadow of the Vampire" won several awards:

* the Prix Tournage
* the Saturn Award
* the Gran Angular Award
* the International Fantasy Film Award
* the President Award
* the Golden Satellite Award
* the Independent Spirit Award
* the LAFCA Award for Willem Dafoe
* the Bram Stoker Award for Steven Katz

Willem Dafoe was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

External links


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