The Haunted Castle (1921)

Article #821 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-14-2003
Posting Date: 11-11-2003
Directed by F. W. Murnau
Featuring Arnold Korff, Lulu Kyser Korff, Lothat Mehnert

A woman visits a castle and discovers that the man she accused of murdering her first husband is also there.

Title check: The castle isn’t haunted, I’ll say that much. Nor does it really seem to have enough character to warrant it being the center of attention in the title.

I’d heard that sitting through some of Murnau’s early work can be a bit of a chore, but I’d never had any first-hand experience with it. Well, now I have, and I have to admit that this one was not an easy or fun watch. Part of the problem is the story; it’s one of those that seems aimless and unfocused until a plot twist near the end ties everything together, and though this type of story can work, it relies on finding ways to make the previous events in the movie compelling and interesting on their own, and that is what this movie fails to do. One reason for this is the static visual feel of the movie; I found it hard to believe that this was the same man who directed FAUST. Also, the movie does one of the worst jobs of differentiating flashback sequences from the main storyline that I’ve ever seen; whole scenes would go by before I realized they were flashbacks, and I was left utterly confused at several points. Despite the title, it is not a horror movie, by the way; the only fantastic element involves a man’s dream that a claw comes in the window, grabs him, and carries him off, a scene that would have been effective if it really had anything to do with the rest of the story. As it is, I can only recommend it to Murnau completists and obsessed fools who insist on watching all these movies to complete some sort of project.


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