Last night we went to see Nosferatu in the local Cathedral complete with organ music care of Nigel Ogden (from BBC2’s ‘The Organist Entertains’, which honestly didn’t mean much to me but the publicity was big on it so I’m assuming others are better informed). It transpired that it was really about the music, the last of a series of organ recitals, but I can’t help but feel that the Cathedral was a great if slightly uncomfortable (hard seats) place to see a film and hope that they consider revisiting the idea.
I’d never seen Nosferatu before and it turns out that the last 88 years have changed our ideas of what’s scary; this was possibly the campest film I’ve ever seen – the Scottish one describes it as delightfully of its time which is true. It seemed amazingly hammy and overacted but to an audience used to music hall style entertainment that would presumably have seemed quite appropriate. Even so there were some chilling moments – some scenes with rats which I found unsettling, a mad estate agent, and a crewless boat slipping into harbour. It’s based closely on ‘Dracula’ with just enough differences to avoid getting into trouble (apparently it was meant to be 'Dracula' but they couldn’t get permission to use the story).
We weren’t the only ones who found it funny, the whole Cathedral kept erupting into laughter – if the images on the screen didn’t do it than the subtitles most certainly did, but nothing could distract from the grandeur of the surroundings, or banish the shadows from the candlelit naves. There were iconic Nosferatu effects every time someone walked past the floodlit windows outside (My-friend-the-teacher’s son amused us more than you might expect by doing a very good impression as we left the building, she was delighted to see her 13 year old pick up on a cultural reference which didn’t come courtesy of his x-box live). The organ accompaniment was grand and reminded me strongly of 'Miss Hargreaves'– it’s also something that it just wouldn’t occur to me to sit through without a visual distraction.
I did wonder why they chose ‘Nosferatu’ but as the man with the collar explained beforehand it raises a lot of questions of a distinctly Christian nature and I can’t argue with that. I would love to see what could be done with a genuinely scary (though still appropriate) film, the organ, and such an amazingly atmospheric venue.
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