OGUNQUIT, Maine – Get into the Halloween spirit with a classic silent horror movie.
“Nosferatu” (1922), the first screen adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”, will screen with live music on Saturday, October 30 at 7 p.m. at the Leavitt Theater, 259 Main St., Route 1, Ogunquit, Maine.
The screening will feature live music for the film by silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis. General admission is $ 12 per person. Disguises are encouraged.
“Nosferatu” (1922), directed by German filmmaker FW Murnau, remains a flagship work of the horror film genre. It was one of the first films to use visual design to express unease and terror.
For modern viewers, the passage of time has made this unusual film even stranger and otherworldly.
It is an atmosphere that the accompanist of the silent cinema Jeff Rapsis will know how to enhance by improvising live music on site for the screening.
“The original ‘Nosferatu’ is a movie that seems to get more and more frightening as time goes on,” said Rapsis, a resident of Bedford, New Hampshire, who accompanies the silent film screenings. at Leavitt and in theaters across the country.
“It’s a great way to celebrate Halloween and the power of silent movies to transport audiences to weird and unusual places,” said Rapsis.
In “Nosferatu”, actor Max Schreck plays the main character, a mysterious Count from Transylvania who travels to the German city of Bremen to settle there.
In the city, an increase in deaths from the plague is attributed to the arrival of the Earl. It is only when a young woman reads “The Book of Vampires” that it becomes clear how to rid the city of this frightening menace.
Director Murnau told the story with weird camera angles, weird lighting, and special effects that include deliberately time-lapse footage.
While “Nosferatu” is suitable for all family members, the overall program may be too intense for very young children to enjoy.
Modern critics say the original “Nosferatu” still packs a powerful cinematic punch.
“The first film version of Dracula is brilliantly weird, full of imaginative touches that none of the later films quite picked up,” Leonard Maltin recently wrote.
Chicago Reader critic Dave Kehr called “Nosferatu” “… a masterpiece of German silent cinema and by far the most effective version of Dracula ever recorded.”
Despite the status of “Nosferatu” as a landmark of early cinema, another chilling aspect of the film is that it was almost lost forever.
The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was an unauthorized adaptation of Stoker’s novel, with names and other details changed because the studio could not secure the rights to the novel.
So “vampire” became “Nosferatu” and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok”. After the film’s release, Stoker’s widow filed a copyright infringement suit and won; all known prints and negatives were destroyed in accordance with the terms of the settlement.
However, intact copies of the film will surface later, allowing “Nosferatu” to be restored and shown today as audiences originally saw it. The image of actor Max Schreck as a vampire has become so well known that she appeared in a recent episode of “Sponge Bob Squarepants”.
The historic Leavitt Theater opened in 1923 as a silent movie theater for the summer. Almost 100 years of operation, it continues to broadcast films, but also serves as a restaurant, bar and lounge.
By bringing “Nosferatu” back to life, the Leavitt Theater aims to show silent cinema as it was meant to be seen – in restored copies, on the big screen, with live music and with an audience.
“All of these are important parts of the silent film experience,” said Rapsis, who will accompany the film. “Recreate those conditions, and early film classics like ‘Nosferatu’ come to life in a way audiences still find entertaining.”
Rapsis plays on a digital synthesizer that reproduces the texture of the entire orchestra, creating a traditional “film score” sound. He improvises the full score in real time during the screening.
“Creating film music on the fly is kind of a high-flying act, but it can often create more excitement than if everything was planned out in advance,” said Rapsis.
The classic horror thriller “Nosferatu” premieres Saturday, October 30 at 7 p.m. at the Leavitt Theater, 259 Main Street, Route 1 in Ogunquit. Admission $ 12 per person; tickets available at the door.
For more information call (207) 646-3123 or visit www.leavittheatre.com.
For more information on music, visit www.jeffrassis.com.