*”More decidedly evil, however, is the vampire, or nosferatu, in which every Romanian peasant believes as firmly as he does in heaven or hell.” Emily Gerard, in an 1885 magazine article, “Transylvanian Superstitions”
“Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (German: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) is a 1922 silent German Expressionist horror film directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck as Count Orlok, a vampire with an interest in both a new residence and the wife (Greta Schröder) of his estate agent (Gustav von Wangenheim). The film is an unauthorized and unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula…
Even with several details altered, Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered all copies of the film to be destroyed. However, a few prints of Nosferatu survived, and the film came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema.
Nosferatu has been noted for its themes regarding fear of the Other, as well as for possible anti-Semitic undertones, both of which may have been partially derived from the Bram Stoker novel Dracula, upon which the film was based…Orlok’s interest in acquiring property in the German town of Wisborg, a shift in locale from the Stoker novel’s London, has also been analyzed as preying on the fears and anxieties of the German public at the time. Writer Tony Magistrale wrote that the film’s depiction of an “invasion of the German homeland by an outside force […] poses disquieting parallels to the anti-Semitic atmosphere festering in Northern Europe in 1922.”
…Writer Kevin Jackson has noted that director F. W. Murnau “was friendly with and protective of a number of Jewish men and women” throughout his life, including Jewish actor Alexander Granach, who plays Knock in Nosferatu. Additionally, Magistrale wrote that Murnau, being a homosexual, would have been “presumably more sensitive to the persecution of a subgroup inside the larger German society”. As such, it has been said that perceived associations between Orlok and anti-Semitic stereotypes are unlikely to have been conscious decisions on the part of Murnau.
The studio behind Nosferatu, Prana Film, was a short-lived silent-era German film studio founded in 1921 by Enrico Dieckmann and occultist artist Albin Grau, named for the Hindu concept of prana. Although the studio’s intent was to produce occult- and supernatural-themed films, Nosferatu was its only production, as it declared bankruptcy shortly after the film’s release.
Murnau prepared carefully; there were sketches that were to correspond exactly to each filmed scene, and he used a metronome to control the pace of the acting.
Nosferatu‘s preview premiered on 4 March 1922 in the Marmorsaal of the Berlin Zoological Garden. This was planned as a large society evening entitled Das Fest des Nosferatu (Festival of Nosferatu), and guests were asked to arrive dressed in Biedermeier costume. The cinema premiere itself took place on 15 March 1922 at Berlin’s Primus-Palast.
This was the only Prana Film; the company filed for bankruptcy and then Stoker’s estate, acting for his widow, Florence Stoker, sued for copyright infringement and won. The court ordered all existing prints of Nosferatu burned, but one purported print of the film had already been distributed around the world. This print was duplicated over the years, kept alive by a cult following, making it an example of an early cult film.
A remake by director Werner Herzog, Nosferatu the Vampyre, starred Klaus Kinski (as Count Dracula, not Count Orlok) and was released in 1979.”