Saturday, June 20, 2015

Costuming & Makeup: Nosferatu

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (or, Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror) was a silent horror film made by German director F.W. Murnau in 1922. Based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, the story goes as follows: This creepy, bald antagonist named Count Orlok is kind of moping about the place with his, ahem, 'interesting' fashion sense and overly long, talon-like fingers when he decides to get his stalk on for Ellen, the wife of real estate agent Hutter. Not cool, dude. Hutter was just trying to secure a home for yo' pasty white ass and you had the gall to be all up on his girl like the blood-sucking, undead vampire you are. -_- What a dude.

Clearly, Orlok photographs just as beautifully as I do.

To portray such a vile creature, producer/production designer Albin Grau had his work cut out for him...or did he? According to one (albeit unknown) source, Max Shreck—the actor who portrayed Nosferatu—had an "innate gaunt and emaciated frame...[he] has the suitably hungry and predatory appearance that one might expect of a vampire." While Grau was the one to dream up the elongated fingers and popping eyes, back in the day most silent film actors had to apply their own makeup. It is possible that Shreck himself placed his own bald cap, applied putty around the nose, added ear extensions and fangs, used spirit gum to incorporate tufts of hair around gangly eyebrows, and utilized grease paint to give himself a deathly pale sheen.

"You raaaaaang...?"

Costuming is also important, especially since visual elements mean so much in silent films; they affect the entire mood of the piece. Orlok is a count, and his fancy coat not only marks his station but lends a certain 'gravedigger-esque' appeal. (It was very in that season, I assure you.) The slightly raised shoulder pads promote a vision of rigor mortis while the buttons down the front are reminiscent of spikes in a coffin. Orlok is also a master of disguise, as evidenced below.

Nailed it.

Ellen, played by gothic beauty Greta Schröder, is also pretty stylin'. Dark ringlets frame her face; an incredibly classical look that, somehow, she manages to pull off without looking anything like Shirly Tample.

Such a sensible hairstyle holds up even on blustery days.

She also displays theatrical makeup, which is understandable given the time period. The most obvious alteration has to do with Schröder's eyes. They look deep—almost like skull cavities—thanks to heavy swaths of eyeshadow. It is a look for which the actress is well known even to this day.

The fainting femme dressed in virginal white, as per usual.

Do not think for one moment that such a shrinking violet could hope to steal the fashion show, though: Orlok is the trend-setter who can rock a ruffled turban, after all.

Orlokalways one to appreciate an ascotrealizes that Hutter is quite the dandy.

I apologize for the somewhat late/rushed post. Google applications have been acting up over the last few days, and I thought of covering Nosferatu only recently after a discussion with my friend Michelle. Hope you enjoyed it all the same! ^,.,^


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