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The actor -director relationship may never have been stranger than the one between FW Murnau and Max Schreck in the making of Nosferatu...It`s the subject of intriguing speculations in Shadow Of The Vampire..It`s 1922, and F.W. Murnau, one of Germany`s great film directors, is working on Nosferatu, an unauthorised version of Bram Stoker`s novel, Dracula - Murnau calls his vampire character Count Orloc, and he has cast a mysterious, reclusive actor called Max Schreck in the role. However, some of the obsessed Murnau`s collaborators begin to suspect that Schreck isn`t really an actor at all, but a genuine vampire. Steven Katz` screenplay centres on the disarming premise that F.W. Murnau, edgily played by John Malkovich, did a faustian deal by selling his soul to a vampire - and promising the creature the blood of his leading lady - to get an unforgettably real performance in his film. It`s an audacious idea and will certainly appeal to anyone who`s ever seen Murnau`s wonderfully creepy Nosferatu, scenes from which are painstakingly recreated by director E. Elias Merhige. In fact, Max Schreck was an actor who made quite a few films up until his death in 1936, and there are some other factual errors (Murnau is compared to Griffith and Eisenstein, but Eisenstein`s first features were made after Nosferatu). Still, the sheer thrill of Willem Dafoe`s eerie impersonation of Max Schreck makes the film essential viewing.