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Shadow of the Vampire

Shadow of the Vampire

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Shadow of the Vampire is a 2000 horror film
Horror film
Horror films seek to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's most primal fears. They often feature scenes that startle the viewer through the means of macabre and the supernatural, thus frequently overlapping with the fantasy and science fiction genres...

 directed by E. Elias Merhige
E. Elias Merhige
Edmund Elias Merhige, known as E. Elias Merhige, is an American film director born in Brooklyn.Merhige is best known to mainstream audiences for the 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire, and to underground audiences for the cult-classic 1991 film Begotten.As he says in his audio commentary to the...

 and written by Steven Katz
Steven A. Katz
Steven Katz is the writer of the original screenplay Shadow of the Vampire . He was born in St. Louis, Missouri on October 8, 1959 and received a B.A. in English and Art History from Brown University in 1982 and an M.A. in English from Columbia University in 1984...

, and starring John Malkovich
John Malkovich
John Gavin Malkovich is an American actor, producer, director and fashion designer with his label Technobohemian. Over the last 25 years of his career, Malkovich has appeared in more than 70 motion pictures. For his roles in Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire, he received Academy Award...

, Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe is an American film, stage, and voice actor, and a founding member of the experimental theatre company The Wooster Group...

, and Udo Kier
Udo Kier
Udo Kier is a German actor, known primarily for his work in horror and exploitation movies.-Early life:...

. The film is a fiction
Fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

alized account of the making of the classic vampire
Vampire
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person...

 film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, directed by F. W. Murnau, in which the film crew begin to have disturbing suspicions about their lead actor. The film borrows the techniques of silent films, including the use of intertitle
Intertitle
In motion pictures, an intertitle is a piece of filmed, printed text edited into the midst of the photographed action, at various points, generally to convey character dialogue, or descriptive narrative material related to, but not necessarily covered by, the material photographed.Intertitles...

s to explain elided
Ellipsis (narrative device)
Ellipsis is the narrative device of omitting a portion of the sequence of events, allowing the reader to fill in the narrative gaps.An ellipsis in narrative leaves out a portion of the story. This can be used to condense time, or as a stylistic method to allow the reader to fill in the missing...

 action and iris lenses
Iris shot
An iris shot is a technique frequently used in silent film in which a black circle closes to end a scene.Some non-silent era slapstick comedy, such as that of Red Skelton, Benny Hill, and Warner Bros.' Road Runner cartoons, employ the technique as an homage to the silent film era....

. The film received two Academy Award nominations, Best Supporting Actor
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

 and Best Makeup, but lost to Traffic and How The Grinch Stole Christmas, respectively.

Plot


In 1921, German director Frederich Wilhelm Murnau (John Malkovich
John Malkovich
John Gavin Malkovich is an American actor, producer, director and fashion designer with his label Technobohemian. Over the last 25 years of his career, Malkovich has appeared in more than 70 motion pictures. For his roles in Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire, he received Academy Award...

) takes his Berlin-based cast and crew on-location in Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

 and Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 in order to shoot Nosferatu, an unauthorized version of Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker
Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula...

's 1897 novel Dracula
Dracula
Dracula is an 1897 novel by Irish author Bram Stoker.Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor...

. He informs them that the person playing the part of the vampire
Vampire
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person...

 Count Orlok
Count Orlok
Count Orlok is a fictional character portrayed by Max Schreck in the silent movie Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens...

, an obscure German theater performer named Max Schreck
Max Schreck
Friedrich Gustav Max Schreck was a German actor. He is most often remembered today for his lead role in the film Nosferatu .-Early life:Max Schreck was born in Berlin-Friedenau, on 6 September 1879....

 (Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe is an American film, stage, and voice actor, and a founding member of the experimental theatre company The Wooster Group...

), is a highly professional character actor
Character actor
A character actor is one who predominantly plays unusual or eccentric characters. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a character actor as "an actor who specializes in character parts", defining character part in turn as "an acting role displaying pronounced or unusual characteristics or...

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

The main setting is an old Slovak
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

 castle. 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, Gustav von Wangenheim
Gustav von Wangenheim
Gustav von Wangenheim was a German actor, screenwriter and director.- Life :Wangenheim was born Ingo Clemens Gustav Adolf Freiherr von Wangenheim in Wiesbaden, Hesse, to parents Eduard Clemens Freiherr von Wangenheim and Minna Mengers...

 (Eddie Izzard
Eddie Izzard
Edward John "Eddie" Izzard is a British stand-up comedian and actor. His comedy style takes the form of rambling, whimsical monologue and self-referential pantomime...

), is frightened of Schreck, but then convinces himself that Schreck 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 tells them of his history as a 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, Schreck is a true vampire, and Murnau has made a deal with him in order to make his film absolutely realistic. Schreck has been promised the main actress, Greta Schroeder
Greta Schröder
Greta Schröder was a German actress. She is best known for the role of Thomas Hutter's wife and victim to Count Orlok in the 1922 silent film Nosferatu. In the fictionalized 2000 film, Shadow of the Vampire, she is portrayed as having been a famous actress during the making of Nosferatu, but in...

 (Catherine McCormack
Catherine McCormack
Catherine McCormack is an English actress, known for her stage acting as well as her screen performances in films such as Braveheart, Spy Game and Dangerous Beauty.- Early life :...

), as a 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 while acting out a scene. Murnau is left as the sole survivor, operating the camera, as several other crew members are killed and Schreck falls victim to the scripted death of Orlok: Enough time has passed for the sun to rise and its rays are now let onto the set.

Cast

  • John Malkovich
    John Malkovich
    John Gavin Malkovich is an American actor, producer, director and fashion designer with his label Technobohemian. Over the last 25 years of his career, Malkovich has appeared in more than 70 motion pictures. For his roles in Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire, he received Academy Award...

     as Frederich Wilhelm Murnau, the director of Nosferatu
  • Willem Dafoe
    Willem Dafoe
    Willem Dafoe is an American film, stage, and voice actor, and a founding member of the experimental theatre company The Wooster Group...

     as Max Schreck
    Max Schreck
    Friedrich Gustav Max Schreck was a German actor. He is most often remembered today for his lead role in the film Nosferatu .-Early life:Max Schreck was born in Berlin-Friedenau, on 6 September 1879....

    , who plays Count Orlok
    Count Orlok
    Count Orlok is a fictional character portrayed by Max Schreck in the silent movie Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens...

    /Count Dracula
    Count Dracula
    Count Dracula is a fictional character, the titular antagonist of Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula and archetypal vampire. Some aspects of his character have been inspired by the 15th century Romanian general and Wallachian Prince Vlad III the Impaler...

  • Udo Kier
    Udo Kier
    Udo Kier is a German actor, known primarily for his work in horror and exploitation movies.-Early life:...

     as Albin Grau
    Albin Grau
    Albin Grau was an artist, architect and occultist, and the producer and production designer for F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu...

    , the producer, art director, and costume designer
  • Cary Elwes
    Cary Elwes
    Ivan Simon Cary Elwes , known professionally as Cary Elwes, is an English actor. The son of Dominick Elwes and Tessa Georgina Kennedy, Elwes acted in off-Broadway plays during college and moved to the United States in the early 1980s. He is known for his role as Westley in the cult classic The...

     as Fritz Arno Wagner
    Fritz Arno Wagner
    Fritz Arno Wagner is considered one of the most acclaimed German cinematographers from the 1920s to the 1950s. He played a key role in the Expressionist film movement during the Weimar period and is perhaps best known for excelling in "in the portrayal of horror" according to noted film critic...

    , the cinematographer
  • Catherine McCormack
    Catherine McCormack
    Catherine McCormack is an English actress, known for her stage acting as well as her screen performances in films such as Braveheart, Spy Game and Dangerous Beauty.- Early life :...

     as Greta Schroeder
    Greta Schröder
    Greta Schröder was a German actress. She is best known for the role of Thomas Hutter's wife and victim to Count Orlok in the 1922 silent film Nosferatu. In the fictionalized 2000 film, Shadow of the Vampire, she is portrayed as having been a famous actress during the making of Nosferatu, but in...

    , who plays Ellen Hutter/Mina Harker
    Mina Harker
    Wilhelmina "Mina" Harker is a fictional character in Bram Stoker's 1897 horror novel Dracula.- In the novel :She begins the story as Miss Mina Murray, a young school mistress who is engaged to Jonathan Harker, and best friends with Lucy Westenra...

  • Eddie Izzard
    Eddie Izzard
    Edward John "Eddie" Izzard is a British stand-up comedian and actor. His comedy style takes the form of rambling, whimsical monologue and self-referential pantomime...

     as Gustav von Wangenheim
    Gustav von Wangenheim
    Gustav von Wangenheim was a German actor, screenwriter and director.- Life :Wangenheim was born Ingo Clemens Gustav Adolf Freiherr von Wangenheim in Wiesbaden, Hesse, to parents Eduard Clemens Freiherr von Wangenheim and Minna Mengers...

    , who plays Thomas Hutter/Jonathan Harker
    Jonathan Harker
    Jonathan Harker is one of the main protagonists in the 1897 horror novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. His journey to Transylvania and encounter with Count Dracula and the Brides of Dracula at Castle Dracula constitutes the dramatic opening scenes in the novel and most of the film adaptations.-In the...

  • John Aden Gillet
    Aden Gillett
    John Aden Gillett is a British actor best known for playing the role of Jack Maddox on the popular BBC series The House of Eliott....

     as Henrik Galeen, the screenwriter
  • Nicholas Elliott – Paul
  • Ronan Vibert
    Ronan Vibert
    Ronan Vibert is a British actor, known for his appearances on British television.-Early life:The son of Dilys and David Vibert, both artists. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1983 to 1986. He has a brother named Cevn....

     – Muller
  • Sophie Langevin – Elke
  • Myriam Muller
    Myriam Muller
    Myriam Muller is a Luxembourgian actress. She starred in Hochzäitsnuecht, which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.-Selected filmography:* Hochzaeitsnuecht * 8½ Women...

     – Maria

Production and financing


The film's working title was Burned to Light, but the director E. Elias Merhige
E. Elias Merhige
Edmund Elias Merhige, known as E. Elias Merhige, is an American film director born in Brooklyn.Merhige is best known to mainstream audiences for the 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire, and to underground audiences for the cult-classic 1991 film Begotten.As he says in his audio commentary to the...

 decided to change the name of the film when Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe is an American film, stage, and voice actor, and a founding member of the experimental theatre company The Wooster Group...

 asked, "Who's Ed?"; the actor thought the title was Burn Ed to Light.

The film was produced by Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage is an American actor, producer and director, having appeared in over 60 films including Raising Arizona , The Rock , Face/Off , Gone in 60 Seconds , Adaptation , National Treasure , Ghost Rider , Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans , and...

's Saturn Films
Saturn Films
-Productions:*Shadow of the Vampire *The Family Man *Gone in 60 Seconds *Sonny *Windtalkers *Adaptation *The Life of David Gale...

. 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".

Of the film's cast, two actors had previously appeared in vampire movies: Udo Kier
Udo Kier
Udo Kier is a German actor, known primarily for his work in horror and exploitation movies.-Early life:...

 played Count Dracula
Count Dracula
Count Dracula is a fictional character, the titular antagonist of Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula and archetypal vampire. Some aspects of his character have been inspired by the 15th century Romanian general and Wallachian Prince Vlad III the Impaler...

 in Blood for Dracula
Blood for Dracula
Blood for Dracula is a 1974 film directed by Paul Morrissey and produced by Andy Warhol and Andrew Braunsberg. It stars Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, Maxime McKendry, Stefania Casini, and Arno Juerging...

(1974) as well appearing in Blade
Blade (film)
Blade is a 1998 vampire superhero action horror starring Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff, loosely based on the Marvel Comics character Blade. The film was directed by Stephen Norrington and written by David S. Goyer. Blade grossed $70 million at the U.S. box office, and $131.2 million worldwide...

(1998) as Dragonetti
Dragonetti
Dragonetti is surname of:* Damien Dragonetti , an American rapper/producer* Domenico Carlo Maria Dragonetti , an Italian double bass virtuoso* John Dragonetti- See also :* Dragonetti, a part of Filiano...

 and Cary Elwes
Cary Elwes
Ivan Simon Cary Elwes , known professionally as Cary Elwes, is an English actor. The son of Dominick Elwes and Tessa Georgina Kennedy, Elwes acted in off-Broadway plays during college and moved to the United States in the early 1980s. He is known for his role as Westley in the cult classic The...

 played Arthur Holmwood
Arthur Holmwood
Arthur Holmwood is a fictional character in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula.-In the novel:He is engaged to Lucy Westenra, and is best friends with the other two men who proposed to her on the very same day — Quincey Morris and Doctor John Seward...

 in Bram Stoker's Dracula
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Dracula is a 1992 American Gothic horror-romance film directed and co-produced by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker...

(1992).

Reception


Critical reaction to Shadow of the Vampire has been mostly positive, with the film earning a rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

. Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 gave the film 3½ stars out of 4, writing that "director E. Elias Merhige and his writer, Steven Katz, do two things at the same time. They make a vampire movie of their own, and they tell a backstage story about the measures that a director will take to realize his vision", and that Dafoe "embodies the Schreck of Nosferatu so uncannily that when real scenes from the silent classic are slipped into the frame, we don't notice a difference." Ebert later awarded the film his Special Jury Prize on his list of "The Best 10 Movies of 2000", writing of Dafoe's "astonishing performance" and of the film, "Avoiding the pitfall of irony; it plays the material straight, which is truly scary."

Awards


Shadow of the Vampire won several awards:
  • the Prix Tournage
  • the Saturn Award
    Saturn Award
    The Saturn Award is an award presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honor the top works in science fiction, fantasy, and horror in film, television, and home video. The Saturn Awards were devised by Dr. Donald A. Reed in 1972, who felt that films within...

  • 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
    Willem Dafoe
    Willem Dafoe is an American film, stage, and voice actor, and a founding member of the experimental theatre company The Wooster Group...

  • the Bram Stoker Award
    Bram Stoker Award
    The Bram Stoker Award is a recognition presented by the Horror Writers Association for "superior achievement" in horror writing. The awards have been presented annually since 1987, and the winners are selected by ballot of the Active members of the HWA...

     for Steven Katz
    Steven A. Katz
    Steven Katz is the writer of the original screenplay Shadow of the Vampire . He was born in St. Louis, Missouri on October 8, 1959 and received a B.A. in English and Art History from Brown University in 1982 and an M.A. in English from Columbia University in 1984...



Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe is an American film, stage, and voice actor, and a founding member of the experimental theatre company The Wooster Group...

 was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

.

External links