MA Student Experience Blog

Blog. 'Nosferatu' 1922.

15 Nov 2018
'Nosferatu'. Image courtesy of Cork Film Festival.

After seeing Burning on Tuesday, I went to the historic St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral...

(https://corkcathedral.webs.com/)  for the Cork Film Festival’s screening of the seminal silent horror film Nosferatu. The event is part of a longstanding tradition at the festival in which at least one silent film is screened with live musical accompaniment.

Nosferatu, which was directed by FW Murnau, is one of the first cinematic depictions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and has inspired generations of filmmakers since. This particular screening featured live accompaniment on the cello, violin, and the cathedral’s historic organ, and was supported by Germany’s cultural institute, Goethe-Institut Irland (https://www.goethe.de/ins/ie/en/index.html). The event was highly anticipated and sold out a week in advance, so when I took my seat the cathedral was already flooded with people.

            I have seen Nosferatu with live accompaniment before, but this time was by far the most gripping. According to the Cork Film Festival’s website, this particular version of the score was commissioned for the Organ Reframed Festival in Union Chapel, London. The haunting music was played so masterfully that I often forgot it was live, and my roommate said the same thing as we walked home later. Furthermore, the presence of multiple instruments and the authenticity of the organ visibly captivated the audience, which is quite an accomplishment for the score of a silent film played for 21st century audiences. It was incredible to watch the film beneath the high ceilings and stained glass windows of Cork’s historic cathedral while sitting along the original pews.

            It also rained that night, and as the film began we could hear the storm thump against the high rooftop. At first I was frustrated about having to walk in such weather, but as we watched Nosferatu I realized that I couldn’t have asked for a better atmosphere. There came a point when it was difficult to tell whether the sounds of wind came from the film’s sound effects or the world outside, and it felt as though FW Murnau had planned it himself.

Department of Film and Screen Media

Meáin Scannán agus Scáileán

O'Rahilly Building University College Cork Ireland

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