I thought this forum could use a little love. I had seen Shadow of the Vampire (2000) a long time ago, when my interest in film was still pretty cursory. And, although it was released in the year 2000, it's a historical picture, referring back to the making of the Nosferatu by FW Murnau in 1922. I rented it again and admired it even more the second time around.
The premise of the film is pretty nifty: What if the lead actor in Nosferatu was in fact an actual vampire? Fleshed out, this little twist gives rise to a highly engaging and uniquely chilling drama. In the story, Murnau keeps his crew in the dark about the true identity of "Max Schreck," claiming that he's a "method actor from the Stanislavsky school." The crew is impressed by his "dedication" but can't help being seriously creeped out by him.
I won't rehash the plot--to be sportsmanlike--but I would like to point out a few things that I felt made it "Oasis-worthy."
For one thing, the filmmakers show a lot of respect for the silent cinema. (As opposed to some historical movies-about-movies that seem to have the attitude "Here's what it was like before they knew any better." Great care is taken to capture the intrepid, questing spirit of the film pioneers. I particularly love the quote (by the Murnau character): "We are scientists engaged in the creation of memory, but our memory will neither blur nor fade." I wouldn't know if this quote is directly attributable to Murnau (I tend to think not), but it does highlight the fact that film is an enormously impactful medium, perhaps in ways we still do not fully understand.
The disc I rented has supplemental features--some interviews and a Director's commentary track--which attest to the care, respect and thoughtfulness that went into the production. Of particular interest was the silent film technique of the director talking his actors through a scene while the cameras were rolling, a function that obviously went out with the advent of sound. Malkovich (Murnau) really draws this out in his performance.
Also noteworthy is the artwork in the opening credits. They're a series of illustrations done in a lovely sepia tone--very art nouveau--that suggest the decor of a 1920s movie palace. The images communicate a new power arising in the consciousness of humanity--the world of film--as both a creative and destructive force. At least that's what I got out of it. It's so brilliant. Beyond words.
So anyway, despite its title, this is a movie you don't have to wait until October to enjoy. It's a good thriller, but it also puts you into contact with other minds that love film as much as we do.
"Immorality may be fun, but it isn't fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day."