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"Mortal terror reigned

Sickness now, then horrible death

Only Lucy knew the truth

And at her window -

Nosferatu"

Nosferatu (rarely used full title: Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror) is the first known "vampire" movie, released in 1922. Director Friedrich W. Murnau cast Max Schreck as Count Orlok, with the veteran German character actor wearing huge pointed ears, long fangs, and completely bald... one of the most frightening characters in film history. The myth that Nosferatu was Schreck's only role is untrue; he appeared in over 20 films and a number of stage roles, all in Germany. This movie is also notable for spawning the idea that vampires can be killed by sunlight.

Nosferatu was originally intended to be a direct adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, but Stoker's widow, who owned the copyright, refused permission. So the Murnau and his team changed the characters' names,[1] simplified the plot, and tried to pass Nosferatu off as an original story.

It didn't work. The film company that produced Nosferatu was forced to declare bankruptcy to avoid paying Bram Stoker's estate for copyright infringement. All copies of this film were supposed to be destroyed because of the infringement, but a Keep Circulating the Tapes mentality among fans of the film kept it from being lost. (pre-digital movie piracy? It's Older Than You Think) We, too, can see the greatness of Murnau's vision.

The myth that Schreck only appeared in this one film was perpetuated by the 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire, which portrayed Schreck as an actual vampire.

This movie is in the public domain and may be viewed in its entirety at Google Video, YouTube, and the Internet Archive.

Also notable under this title: Werner Herzog's 1979 Nosferatu the Vampyre, a re-adaptation of Dracula heavily influenced by the Murnau film's iconic visuals and streamlined plot. Klaus Kinski played the title role (now back to the name "Dracula"), and it's generally considered to be almost as good as the original. Some would even call it better. Kinski would return for the 1988 sort-of-sequel Nosferatu in Venice.


Named The Following Tropes:

This film contains the tropes:

Notes

  1. Some later English-language prints "restore" the character names to their Dracula originals.
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