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The Vampire: How The Genre Has Morphed

2009 words - 8 pages

Myths of werewolves, witches, and fairies have swept across the world, each being shaped by a culture, time, and other bizarre occurrences that people could not explain. These mythical creatures have terrified and awed audiences from around the world throughout time. One of the most widely known, and changed myths that has ever been shaped by any culture is that of the vampire. The vampire has gone from a feared, practically all-powerful, foul creature, to a popularized icon of mystery, romance, and undeniable sex appeal. Before becoming the vampires of today, the vampire underwent changes in its appearance, the bite that it made, the materials that warded it off, and the way it was, ultimately, destroyed.
Nosferatu, the first vampire film, made in 1922 and directed by F.W. Murnau, portrayed Count Orlok, the vampire, as a beast. It was a monster that slept in a coffin by day, and by night, roamed the lands for fresh blood. The surrounding villages are full of people who are terrified of the Count. Hutter, a real-estate agent, is given a book warning him of the “Nosferatu,” a hideously ugly vampire, by these people. In it, the book says that the vampire feasts on blood of humans, and the only way to stop them is for a woman who is pure of heart to sacrifice herself to him so that he loses track of time and gets caught at day break, foreshadowing the end of the film.
Count Orlok is a revolting looking- creature, closely resembling a rat. He has lengthy fingers and nails, strangely shaped teeth, as well as graying hair. He also has supernatural abilities shown throughout the film, such as super-human strength, transfiguration, and it appears as if he can fly. His super human strength is demonstrated in the scene in which he lifts multiple coffin-looking boxes filled with “earth.” The transfiguration is depicted in the scene in which the sailors open the coffin and rats file out of the box. As the Count crosses a room, it appears as if he is floating across the floor, rather than walking. In another scene, Hutter is peering out the window, and sees the Count climb down the outside of the castle into a small window stories beneath.
When Thomas Hutter comes to stay with the Count, Hutter becomes more and more ill, as he is bitten by the Count. The bite itself is never seen on tape, although the marks of the bite are portrayed as two marks similar to two juxtaposed mosquito bites. This filming technique of not showing the actual violence of someone being bitten is used as precedent for twenty years to come.
Much like later vampires, the Count has certain limitations. The Count must be invited into a home in order to set foot across the threshold. He is also unable to cross running water such as the ocean or rivers. The Count cannot be outside of his coffin between day break and sunset, otherwise he will vanish. One recurring symbol that is shown in this movie is a crucifix; the Count cannot come near the crucifix.
Count Orlok goes after Ellen,...

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