Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Max Schreck!

Max Schreck, born September 6, 1879, was a German actor who starred in several silent films of the era, but will always be remembered as the screen's first vampire in Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror (1922). Nosferatu, which was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's book Dracula, with Max Schreck in the title role as the screen's first vampire - a mysterious aristocrat named Count Graf Orlok living in the late 1830s in the German town of Bremen. Because of copyright problems, the vampire was named Nosferatu rather than Dracula, and the action was moved from Transylvania to Bremen. The emaciated, balding, undead vampire's image was unforgettable with a devil-rat face, pointy ears, elongated fingers, sunken cheeks, and long fangs, with rats following him wherever he went. Since this was an unlicensed version of Bram Stoker's Dracula, based so closely on the novel that the estate of Bram Stoker sued and won, with all copies ordered to be destroyed. It would be painstakingly restored in 1994 by a team of European scholars from the five surviving prints that had escaped destruction. The images of Max Schreck as Nosferatu have endured and will always be a symbol of classic horror in films. Happy Birthday to film's first vampire!

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