->'''F. W. Murnau''': I will not allow you to destroy my picture!
->'''Max Schreck''': This is hardly your picture any longer.

''Shadow of the Vampire'' is a 2000 film directed by E. Elias Merhige, starring Creator/JohnMalkovich and Creator/WillemDafoe.

Malkovich plays Creator/FriedrichWilhelmMurnau, the German director who sets out to make his most identifiable film, ''{{Film/Nosferatu}}: Eine Symphonie des Grauens'', in 1922. To make his somewhat lawyer-friendly take on {{Dracula}}, he hires the mysterious Max Shreck to play the vampire Count Orlock. Murnau knows that Schreck is a real-life vampire, and he's hired the actor to ensure a real-life performance. [[{{Pun}} But, he's really bitten off more than he can chew this time]]...

!!This film provides examples of:

* AgeWithoutYouth: Schreck has lived centuries, and he looks it.
* AllPartOfTheShow: When Schreck grabs a bat and chomps down on it in front of two crewmembers, one of them says admiringly, "What an actor!"
* AnachronismStew: Creator/SergeiEisenstein is cited as a great director. ''Nosferatu'' was filmed two years before Eisenstein directed his first movie.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: In 1922, shooting outdoors at night simply wasn't possible with the film stocks and cameras available, and in fact all of the night scenes in the actual ''Nosferatu'' were obviously shot [[HollywoodDarkness day-for-night]] for this reason. However, it serves the "Max Schreck was a vampire" narrative better to pretend these scenes were shot at night.
* BadBadActing: Schreck is hyped up as an insanely dedicated method actor who toured with a prestigious company. However, his actual performance is stilted line readings, dialog screwups and looking at the camera. Of course, it makes sense because he isn't really an actor and was cast for the overwhelming creepiness and legitimacy he brought to the role.
%%* BaldOfEvil
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: Max Shreck is portrayed as an actual vampire, so he's ''really'' not acting as Count Orlok.
%%* BlackComedy
* BreakingAndBloodsucking: Played with. Schreck doesn't attack Greta in her room, it's a movie set, the bedroom from the climax of Nosferatu. Per the arrangement with Murnau, Schreck only receives his payment for playing "himself" in the movie in the scene were Orlok feeds on Ellen.
* BullyingADragon: Murnau constantly yells at Schreck for killing his crew.
* CastTheExpert: [[invoked]] Satirized. Murnau decides there's no better person to play a vampire than a real one. This ends up causing havok for his production of ''Nosferatu'' when Max Shreck keeps killing other members of the crew.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Murnau.
* ContinuityNod: The famous scene of Orlock's projected hand's shadow is reproduced several times.
* ControlFreak: Murnau, full on. However, things eventually get ''way'' out of his control.
* DealWithTheDevil: Murnau promises Schreck a meal of the leading lady in return for his performance.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Everyone involved with filmmaking will recognize the film as one big metaphor for film production itself. Creator/RogerEbert noticed this in his [[http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20010126/REVIEWS/101260302/1023 review]]:
-->'''Creator/RogerEbert:''' Schreck muses aloud, "I do not think we need . . . the writer . . ." Scenes like this work as inside comedy, but they also have a practical side: The star is hungry, and because he is the star, he can make demands. This would not be the first time a star has eaten a writer alive.
* DoingItForTheArt: Murnau's excuse InUniverse, though he uses the words ForScience.
* EnforcedMethodActing: The end result of having to work with an actual bloodsucker InUniverse. Murnau even lampshades it:
-->"They don't need to act. They need to '''be'''"
** "Consider this a ''sacrifice'' for your art"
*** The two crew members' reaction to Max plucking a bat out of the air and greedily eating it is: "What an actor!"
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: The first appearance of Shreck. Few vampires have ever made a more frightening entrance - and it's exactly the same as it was in the actual ''Film/{{Nosferatu}}''.
* FatalMethodActing: [[spoiler:Schreck is a real vampire InUniverse, thus disintegrates when his character is killed via sunlight.]]
** Happens to several members of the cast and production crew.
* TheFogOfAges: Max Schreck, the vampire actor, suffers from this; most of the memories of his early life and his sire have faded, and throughout the film he claims to have forgotten killing members of the film crew less than a few hours after doing so. However, it's implied that Schreck isn't a "complete" vampire, given that he has continued [[AgeWithoutYouth aging despite being immortal]], and that he was never capable of siring vampires of his own.
* ForHalloweenIAmGoingAsMyself: "For this horror movie, I shall be playing a vampire."
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
-->'''Murnau:''' Why would you possibly want to be in a play when you could be in a film?\\
'''Greta:''' [[spoiler: An audience gives me life. This... thing only takes it from me.]]
* GratuitousGerman:
** HerrDoktor, Herr Doktor, Herr Doktor, Ja...
** Creator/EddieIzzard as Gustav. He basically uses the same German accent he uses for his stand up routine about the Heimmlich Manoeuvre.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Well, to begin with, Max Shreck probably wasn't a vampire...
** He was noted as being rather solitary by his contemporaries, but he certainly wasn't implicated in anything such as [[spoiler:murder or bloodsucking.]]
** F. W. Murnau's perfectionist tendencies are also played up for the film. While it's true that he, like other directors of {{German Expressionism}}, had strict control over his set, he certainly didn't [[spoiler:allow his crew to be murdered in order to create a film masterpiece.]]
* LargeHam: Murnau. "Death of centuries! Moonchaser! Blasphemer! Monkey! Vase of prehistory. Finally to Earth, and finally born."
* LooksLikeOrlok: Max actually plays Orlock.
* MadArtist: Murnau, Murnau, Murnau...
* MakingTheMasterpiece: A rather fictional example of this type of story.
* MeaningfulName: A rare RealLife example: Schreck is German for "fright". The real Max Schreck delighted in this coincidence.
* MonsterSobStory: Schreck.
* NiceCharacterMeanActor: Greta.
-->"Stupid cat!"
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: They don't reflect in mirrors, but since they cast shadows, they can be caught on film.
** Schreck comments that he cannot make other vampires (whether he is physically limited himself or just doesn't know how to is unclear), [[IDoNotDrinkWine drinks alcohol]] on more than one occasion (and gets drunk by it), can feed on animals, and while he refuses to board a ship he manages to reach an island by plane (thus passing over moving water).
* PrettyInMink: Greta first shows up in a fur-trimmed coat.
* ThePrimaDonna: Greta is introduced as one at first, but quickly gets surpassed by Murnau himself.
* SanitySlippage: Murnau. [[spoiler:In the end, he's so consumed by his vision for the film that after Schreck kills Fritz and Grau, he actually offers direction to Grau's lifeless body.]]
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: Let's just say this film plays very loosely with the facts.
* VillainousBreakdown: Murnau, after [[spoiler:Schreck kills cinematographer Fritz Arno Wagner, and producer Albin Grau. He expresses his cracked sanity as he orders Schreck to be killed via sunlight.]]
* WarmBloodbagsAreEverywhere: Murnau has to keep his cast and crew from falling prey to Schreck's fangs.
* WhamLine: [[spoiler:"There is no Max Shreck."]]
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: Schreck reads the book ''{{Dracula}}'' in order to study for his role, and is saddened by the scene where Dracula leaves a meal for Jonathan Harker, and remembers when he used to have servants to do such tasks for him, which reminds him of when he had a wife, family, estates, etc., and now he's just a lonely scavenger squatting in a ruined castle.
-->'''Max Schreck:''' He has to feed him, when he himself hasn't eaten food in centuries. Can he even remember how to buy bread? How to select cheese and wine? And then he remembers the rest of it. How to prepare a meal, how to make a bed. He remembers his first glory, his armies, his retainers, and what he is reduced to. The loneliest part of the book comes when the man accidentally sees Dracula setting his table.
* WritersSuck: After Schreck [[spoiler:kills the cinematographer, he quips "I don't think we need the writer..."]]