Nosferatu: Ahead of Its Time*

†††††††† F. W. Murnauís Nosferatu (1922) is a true look into the early views of the vampire legend. At this time in history Bram Stokerís novel is still fairly new only having been written in 1897. Unfortunately, since this film is based on the novel and Murnau had started filming before getting rights to use such material, Stokerís widow sued claiming that her husbandís estate was being ripped off. However, it is in fact this movie that brings Stokerís words to life--not only in its own right, but also influencing many movies based on the Dracula story.

†††††††† In this version of the story the names and locations are changed to fit 1838 Germany rather than 1890s England. The most interesting part of the film is Max Schreck, who plays Count Orlok, portrayal of the vampire character. He does not depict him as the handsome, charming individual that Dracula has become. Instead, Schreck depicts the Orlok character more like an animal. He has pointy ears, claw-like fingernails, and his fangs are located in the middle of his mouth, similar to a rat, rather than the widely accepted canine location.

†††††††† There are several other difference that occur in this film. For instance, Orlok does not transform his victims into vampires. He simply kills them. This is overlooked by the townspeople because they blame the plague on him. Also, in this film, Orlok is killed by sunlight.

†††††††† Overall, the film is ahead of its time. There has been no other vampire movie made that depicts the story in this fashion (except for the film's remake in 1979). The cinematography is quite good for its time period and the acting is good as well. Schreck definitely steals the spotlight as Orlok. His freakishly features cause us to view him as a walking corpse rather than a man trapped by the curse of vampirism.

Brant Veal

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