The Loew's Jersey Theatre at Journal Square, NJ, held a little mini-horror film festival the past few days, and a friend organized a small expedition to see "Nosferatu" last night. The 1922 German silent film, an unauthorized adaptation directed by F.W. Murnau of Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula," was accompanied last night on the organ by Wayne Zimmerman. The big attraction for me was seeing the interior of this grand old movie palace, which is in process of being restored to its former grandeur, and to hear the big old theater organ, which has been restored and is quite spectacular to see and hear.
That said, I found Nosferatu itself to be a drowse-inducing experience. The problem with silent films is that the exaggerated pantomime of the actors gets in the way of any sense of that realism that makes the motion picture experience ordinarily so engrossing. I realize this film has been hailed as an early masterpiece of the cinema, but I found it only intermittently interesting, and it was frustrating that lengthy dialogue cards in German were rendered through brief, cryptic English subtitles. I sense that we were not getting whatever subtleties there might have been in the dialogue.
That said, the huge audience (the place was packed, and the organizers of the event claimed it to be the largest audience they have attracted since reopening the place) seemed to be enthralled, with an enthusiastic ovation at the end. Actually, the most deserving recipient of the ovation was Mr. Zimmerman, for his virtuosic accompaniment at the organ. The size of the crowd so overwhelmed the organizers and their little staff of volunteers that the show actually started more than half an hour late as they struggled to get the masses through the popcorn line and into the hall, so Mr. Zimmerman improvised a pre-show concert, including some sing-along features, and proved an affable host.
The theater is worth visiting, and their email list provides alerts of upcoming events. Getting there is easy for Manhattanites – the PATH station at Journal Square is directly across the street from the theater. After the show ended, we were home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan within an hour.
Hi Prof. Leonard.
Your “Leonard Link” article was forwarded to me and I very much appreciate your comments about the theatre, the movie, the organ and my playing.
There is to be found in some of the early silent motion pictures some over-emoting by the actors mainly because that was the only way in which they could convey to the audience their feelings.
The most hilarious facial over-emoting that I have seen is by Rudolph Valentino in “The Sheik”. The latter “Son of the Sheik” shows a more skilled and suave Valentino, with no facial exagerations.
Again, thanks for your favorable comments re: my performance.
Needless to say, I had a ball!
Cordially and musically.