26. F.W. Murnau
NOSFERATU, SUNRISE, THE LAST LAUGH, FAUST
Thanks to F.W Murnau’s 1922 unauthorized Dracula retelling, Nosferatu (along with Robert Wiene’s 1920 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), expressionism is most closely associated with a certain Gothic branch of the horror genre. Murnau’s use of the approach, wherein the world of the film takes on the characteristics of the inside of the characters’ minds, reaches much further than that, though. It’s in the looming tenement towers the hotel porter calls home in The Last Laugh. It’s in the hectic and alluringly dangerous city in Sunrise, with its neon lights all trying to shout over each other. It’s also in countless directors working today, consciously or subconsciously influenced by Murnau’s greatness. Some descendants of his work are obvious, as in the urban nightmare-scapes of Alex Proyas’ The Crow and Dark City. Some are less so, as in the grimy film that coats the Las Vegas navigated by the similarly soiled characters of Todd Phillips’ The Hangover. All are undeniable testaments to the defining power of F.W. Muranu.
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