Wednesday, June 9, 2010
"The story of Nosferatu is similar to that of Dracula and retains the core characters—Jonathan and Mina Harker, the Count, etc.—but omits many of the secondary players, such as Arthur and Quincey, and changes all of the character's names (although in some recent releases of this film, which is now in the public domain in the United States but not in most European states, the written dialog screens have been changed to use the Dracula versions of the names). The setting has been transferred from Britain in the 1890s to Germany in 1838.
In contrast to Dracula, Orlok does not create other vampires, but kills his victims, causing the townfolk to blame the plague, which ravages the city. Also, Orlok must sleep by day, as sunlight would kill him. The ending is also substantially different from that of Dracula. The count is ultimately destroyed at sunrise when the "Mina" character sacrifices herself to him. The town called "Wisborg" in the film is in fact a mix of Wismar and and Lübeck.
This was the first and last Prana Film; the company declared bankruptcy after Bram Stoker's estate, acting for his widow, Florence Stoker, sued for copyright infringement and won. The court ordered all existing prints of Nosferatu destroyed, but copies of the film had already been distributed around the world. These prints were then copied over the years, helping Nosferatu gain its current reputation as one of the greatest movie adaptations of the vampire legend.
With the influence of producer and production designer Albin Grau, the film established one of two main depictions of film vampires. The "Nosferatu-type" is a living corpse with rodent features (especially elongated fingernails and incisors), associated with rats and plague, and neither charming nor erotic but rather totally repugnant. The victims usually die and are not turned into vampires themselves. The more common archetype is the "Dracula-type" (established by Bela Lugosi's version of Dracula and perpetuated by Christopher Lee), a charming aristocrat adept at seduction and whose bite turns his victims into new vampires.
A more universal effect of the film is less obvious: the ending of Nosferatu single-handedly created the concept that vampires can be physically harmed by sunlight. While this was a common element of many other mythical creatures, pre-Nosferatu vampires disliked but could endure daylight (for instance, a part in the original Dracula novel shows its count in a London street by day). Since Nosferatu's release, the vampire legends have quickly incorporated the idea of fearing, or being destroyed by, the sun.
Murnau's Nosferatu is in the public domain in the United States but not in Germany, and copies of the movie are widely available on video (usually as poorly transferred, faded, scratched video copies that are often scorned by enthusiasts). However, pristine restored editions of the film have also been made available, and are also readily accessible to the public.
The movie has received not only a strong cult following, but also has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, including being cited as the best of all the adaptations of Dracula. On Rottentomatoes.com it received a "Certified Fresh" label and holds a 98 percent "fresh" rating based on 46 reviews.
To read more about this film, click here: Wikipedia
Posted by CZBZ at 6:15 PM