Hmmm. Interesting film. Like many pieces of art that thinks about art, it gets a bit idea-ridden. But the thoughts are interesting, and Dafoe's performance as Schreck / Count Orloch is something divinely weird. Here is a movie with a genius makeup artist, who manages to re-create the vampire of Nosferatu (no creepier vampire has ever been shown on screen, I think) with exactitude . . . and Dafoe gives him PERSONALITY! It's not just the pity-the-monster pathos, though that's beautifully touched on when, alone in a cave, he begins reading from Tennyson's 'Tithonus' . . . "The woods decay, the woods decay and fall / the vapors weep their burthen to the ground / Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath / and after many a summer dies the swam.../ Me only cruel immortality consumes. . . " but the absurdity of his situation. He has read Dracula, he says, and finds it sad, because the poor count has no servants, and has to be seen by his guest serving the table, making up a meal he cannot partake. He feeds like an old man pees, he says, all at once or in drips. He ghoulishly stuffs down a passing bat like a Circus geek. He snorts and sniffs like one so long alone has has forgotten to have normal manners. After rudely smacking his lips feeding greedily on the desired maiden (no maiden indeed!) he snores in piggy satiation. He is awful and repellant, and very, very funny at the same time. Malkovich's Murnau is a little less of a delight. The whole idea of his character--one so obsessed with creating immortal (or should we say undying?) art that he is willing to expose his cast and crew to the depradations of the real vampire thing, is a sort of mad scientist joke that has all the manifest and hard-to-believe stupidity it usually does in the old horror flicks. He keeps cranking away at the camera while Orloch snaps necks and sucks noisily on the heroine's throat. He has striven so hard for verisimilitude that he is willing to have a rogue creature on the set, but then he complains peevishly when the count dares to commit a murder in such a way as to spoil the composition in the frame. Still, what he says about art and film is telling, and memorable. The director is meant to show us another sort of monster, I guess--the kind who gets so in the grip of an idea about imitating reality that he wittingly or unwittingly shoots a snuff film. This is a level of irresponsibility it's a bit hard to accept. But then, of course, it's a level of irresponsibility in our minds because we rapidly come to believe that Orloch either believes he is the real thing or IS the real thing . . . and how real is THAT???? Meanwhile the cast and crew continue to accept his unpleasant presence as that of a method actor who takes his art very seriously. It's a clever hall of mirrors in which not all the characters have reflections. The incorporation of footage from Nosferatu is done extremely well and seamlessly. And yes, there is irony in recalling that one of the first things done in film, was to put on deathless celluloid the moving life & murderous acts of the undead.