Scenes Used In Shadow of the Vampire
Part Three - Death at Sea and The Plague
The Ship of Death
The sailing ship is an excellent visual diversion from the Carpathian landscape. As mentioned earlier, the sight of Count Orlock rising suddenly and so unnaturally from the coffin was a real fright for film audiences back in the day. In Shadow of the Vampire, Merhige shows us the boards and levers used to create the illusion. Even knowing how it's done does not detract from the effect this has in the film. This is a great moment in film history.
Shadow of the Vampire would have us believe that Schreck was afraid of the water and forced Murnau to build a ship set on dry land. Is it possible that an actor like Schreck could have demanded such an expense?
Popular myth has it that Schreck was a little known actor. This adds to the mystique surrounding Nosferatu. The name Schreck loosely translates to "fear" or "terror" and is not a common name. A handy coincidence or what? We've also heard that Schreck did a lot of acting in his day and was not the mysterious fellow that history has made him out to be. If anyone knows the truth about this please let us know.
Ellen's Sacrifice and the Death of Orlock
Ok, I have to admit the ending of Shadow of the Vampire has me stumped. It asks more questions than it answers. The fictitious world that Merhige and screenwriter, Steven Katz have created comes together here. There is at least partial closure around the Schreck character and Ellen's sacrifice to end the "plague."
Malkovich's Murnau gives the Greta Schroeder character a stake to drive through Orlock's heart. The stake is a familiar device in the Bram Stoker legend as it is in Vampire legend in general. But the wooden stake does not make an appearance in Nosferatu. (there are many differences between Nosferatu and Dracula) In the end, Merhige gives us a more clever way of dealing with the Vampire, at least a human one.
Of course, we may never know if Max Schreck was really a Vampire. Well, then again he does dissolve nicely in daylight so maybe he was? © 2000 Silent Orchestra