September 23, 2020

Spotlight kicks off classic series> Vampire tale ‘Nosferatu’ first of featured films

A new program at Spotlight Cinemas in Orono will provide audiences the opportunity to see some of their favorite old-time movies on the big screen.

On Jan. 23, the Classic Film Festival will begin a run of vintage films, starting with “Nosferatu” (1922), the seminal vampire film directed by F.W. Murnau, marking the 75th anniversary of the movie’s release.

A tale told in silence and shadow, Murnau’s “Nosferatu” is based on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Stoker’s estate blocked the film’s original release because Murnau had failed to get the rights to the characters. The director solved the problem by changing the title, characters’ names and the setting.

“Nosferatu,” as the first vampire movie, is the inspiration for its successors. While it may not be scary — or campy — in any modern sense, it has been praised for its artistry, atmosphere and images, as well as its depiction of the fears that haunted another era.

The festival is the idea of Rick Phillips, manager of Spotlight Cinemas, and Al Taylor, head curator at the National Movie Museum in Bangor, which collects and restores old films.

“Al Taylor approached me and told me of these old movie prints turning into mush because of improper storage,” Phillips said. The two worked out an agreement granting Spotlight first showing of six classic movies restored by the museum.

The museum obtained the original negatives of “Nosferatu” from an archive in Germany, where the movie was first released, and restored it on its 35 mm format along with the original musical score. “Nosferatu” inspired subsequent movies on the nocturnal bloodsucker, including Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula.”

After “Nosferatu,” Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis’ debut film, “At War with the Army” (1950), will be shown, followed by cult classic “Reefer Madness” (1937), the original “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), “Hercules and the Captive Women” (1961) and “Mars Attacks the World” (1936), a Flash Gordon adventure featuring Buster Crabbe.

All Classic Film Festival movies will be shown three times during the evening from Friday to Thursday, with “Nosferatu” showing at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Each movie is scheduled to run for two weeks, but the time span could be longer or shorter depending on attendance. Tickets are $4, not the regular admission price of $2.50, but a portion of all ticket sales will go toward the restoration of more classic films.

“By allowing people to see these movies and by donating a portion of ticket sales toward their restoration, it allows us to preserve our film heritage, ” Phillips said.

For more information on the Classic Film Festival and show times, call Spotlight Cinemas at 827-7411.

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