Monday, October 2, 2017

Dracula Month Day 2: Nosferatu

Welcome back to Dracula Month! Today I'm looking at director F.W. Murnau's 1922 motion picture Nosferatu!

The story of Nosferatu's creation and near-destruction is almost as legendary as the film itself; although the picture did not use the character names from Stoker's Dracula it was quite blatantly built from the novel's plot and Stoker's family tried to have every copy destroyed. They failed, thankfully, and the picture survives as one of the few motion pictures of the silent age to enjoy a healthy audience in the 21st century as new generations repeatedly seek out this film. There was a time when knowledge of Nosferatu placed you in the upper echelon of horror film geeks; now, it's pretty much expected that if you are a horror film fan (and especially a Dracula fan) that you know all about this film. The late 1990s in particular saw a surge in references to the film as repeatedly the visual of the film's Count Orlok was used as an inspiration for new movie monsters. I myself can testify that this is a film which plays well with today's audiences, having introduced it to some of my friends. I doubt I could have made them watch Murnau's masterpiece Sunrise but they were entertained by Nosferatu!

The film is not entirely effective, I should add - the sped-up footage of Orlok's coach near the beginning induces laughter. Still, Orlok himself is an impressive film monster with his stoic, rat-like features. Compared to the many film Draculas who followed him, he is undeniably scary-looking, possessing none of the urbane good looks people usually associate with Dracula. The "Nosferatu-type" of vampire has become a minor subsection of popular culture's vampires and Max Schreck's makeup and performance as Orlok remains striking.

This film is in the public domain; watch it at

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