Bram Stoker’s Dracula had no copyright license over reprints of Stoker’s original work. However, because Stoker’s widow had obtained copyright license over theatrical productions, at the time, that also included films. Therefore, while Nosferatu is a horror film based primarily off of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, directed by F.W. Murnau, it follows an almost identical plot with the exception of the characters’ names. Although eventually, Mrs. Stoker did win an infringement lawsuit against the makers of Nosferatu. The existing copy of the film has been deemed one of the most influential reproductions of Dracula ever created and has been studied by many, using various techniques. Using Jan Perkowski’s vampire analysis for vampire folklore, Murnau’s main character in Nosferatu, Count Orlock, can be analyzed in order to articulate the most important details of the purpose of the creation of the film and origin of the legend.
Nosferatu was portrayed as a silent film under the influence of Dark Romanticism, a literary movement that had not yet been adapted to film. Dark Romantics were known for exploiting the dark side of the human psyche through sin, guilt, and madness. The movement’s influence on Nosferatu is evident in the main character, Count Orlock. He is essentially a parasite to all things living by his ability to spread disease, his desire to feast on human blood, and his reclusive personality. He lives alone in a secluded castle that all surrounding villagers know to keep their distance from, epitomizing a character out of the Dark Romantic period.
Because it was a silent film, the director was forced to be creative when he needed to evoke emotion from his audience to achieve his desired effect of the film. Therefore, music was a large part of the film; it would build with suspense and reach a crescendo at points of importance, specifically towards the end, as Count Orlock was chased by a frantic Thomas Hutter (Dracula’s Jonathan Harker). However, during the process of disposing of all copies of the film under judicial mandate after Stoker’s widow won her case of copyright infringement, the original orchestral score, composed by Hans Erdmann, was lost and replaced by a reconstitution of the original.
Country and Region
The majority of Nosferatu takes place in the Carpathian Mountains as Thomas Hutter travels from Wisborg, Germany to Count Orlock’s castle located in Transylvania at the heart of the Carpathian Mountains. Eventually the two make their way back to Germany and that is where the conclusion of the film is reached. Hutter’s purpose of traveling to such a dangerous and forbidden place was simply his job; to assist Count Orlock in purchasing a house in their town. He decided to make his trip even after the many warnings that locals gave him, the most hard-hitting of which was the warning from Hutter’s driver of the carriage that refused to take him any further as the sun set. The man clearly was upset by the idea of traveling so...