Dracula Returns?

Gwladys has sent me a most intriguing thing:

Out for my riverside run at dusk last night I headed for the river path. There was an extraordinary sight at the boat repairers yard (near The Cutty Sark pub). They are currently working on a three masted galleon ( or some such sort of craft- I don’t want to upset the pedants and purists). I don’t know if it is there for filming purposes or indeed what they are up to with it. It certainly looks quite ghostly at night. Has Dracula sailed unobserved into our midst?

Gwladys – have you noticed any strange trails of earth or suspicious black dogs knocking around? How about very tall, rather pale-looking gentlemen in need of a little dental work? We’re a long way from Whitby but…

I have no idea what this is – unless it’s some kind of film set – or a very nice commission indeed for the boatyard – but I intend to find out. I’ll try to get down there today to find out what’s going on, and maybe some of you folk have some inside info but in the meanwhile, Gwladys, make sure you keep wearing that garlic necklace and start carrying a nice sharp stake with you on your nightly run.

Maybe it’s a publicity stunt for the new project at Greenwich Picturehouse – a re-release of F W Murnau’s Nosferatu (from 1922, if memory serves…) with a score by Darryn Harkness. I’m never too convinced by these new scores for old silents – Nosferatu and Metropolis seem to be the two that composers worry like a (little black) dog with a bone.

Nosferatu is definitely the creepiest of the Dracula movies – despite or perhaps because of the day-for-night camera work, the use of shadow and the understated violence. Max Schreck’s portrayal of the count is truly scary – those spindly long fingers, those staring eyes and those two long front teeth gave me nightmares for months afterwards. Bet he didn’t get too many young romantic lead roles after that one.

Do new scores always do much for old classics? I’m pretty sure that the way I saw it – in silence – was not how it would have originally have been shown. I can’t believe that the jangly cinema piano would have done justice to the eerie atmosphere, either. But I’ve not always been convinced by the modern interpretations (I just turn the sound down on that Queen version of Metropolis. Never managed the Nosferatu at The Barbican.)

I guess the only way to find out if this version is any good will be to go along…

25th & 26th Sept, The Screening Room, Greenwich Picturehouse.

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