I have recently watched clips from the beginnings of two vampire
movies. The two films were, of course, very different things. One was
'Nosferatu' a product of the 1920's. I am lucky to have seen it
considering how it was banned by a judge of the time and all copies
ordered destroyed. Of course as attitudes change in cinema and with
the introduction of the BBFC 'censorship' system it was released
The other movie though was a completely different kettle of marine
life; it was 'Bram Stokers Dracula' and bore about as much resemblance
to Bram Stokers story as myself to a chimp. If it was named 'Parody Of
Bram Stokers Dracula', 'Allegorical Tale Featuring Characters Based On
Bram Stokers Dracula', I would understand. Maybe even 'Shameless Cash
In On The Name Of Bram Stoker' would be more appropriate.
The reason for the differences? It seems to me that movie has changed
due to social reasons as well as technological reasons (I will return
to this subject later). Monsters are out - antiheros are the new
black. So what surprise is it to us that by the beginnings of the
nineties Dracula was less a monster and more a tortured soul? Why are
the Jewish style garb and appearance of 'Orlock' (the Dracula
equivalent from Nosferatu) gone only to be replaced with a Dracula who
answers the door looking strangely like one of the good Chairman Mao's
henchmen? This is particularly interesting considering that at the
time of Nosferatu's filming anti-Semitism was rife and the people were
battling a 'International Zionist Conspiracy'.
It seems strange too me that while Nosferatu was truer to the tale
that both were clearly based upon it is the one who denies its
heritage. At the time of course the Bram Stoker Estate was most intent
on suing it for the theft of copyright which possibly makes the reason
for the denial clear.
These and other social factors influenced the making of the films to a
great extent, while 'Nosferatu' was considered scary at the time of
its making, most of the enjoyment derived from it by a modern audience
is either amusement at the primitiveness of the effects or a vague and
slightly misplaced nostalgia for a era of time most never witnessed.
Technology of course allows the audience to be shocked in every more
inventive ways until eventually old techniques seem simple and become
ineffective. The approach to castles in the film is a good example of...