PostED ON 21.10.2022


Nosferatu, 1922 © DR

‘Nosferatu', otherwise known as ‘A Symphony of Horror’ by German director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau is one of the world's most famous films. Although it celebrates its centenary this year, this work was seldom seen. Nosferatu is a ‘pirated’ adaptation of Bram Stoker's ‘Dracula’; Murnau and his producer never tried to acquire the rights due to lack of funds. However, the filmmaker's fascination was overwhelming, so he went ahead and gave Dracula the powerful, strange name of Nosferatu. Apart from this nominal detail and part of the flick’s action that takes place not in England but in Germany, the story is very faithful to the novel. This plagiarism allowed Stoker's widow to obtain a radical court decision: a sentence requiring that all existing prints of ‘Nosferatu’ be burned! Fortunately, this did not happen.

So, what is ‘Nosferatu’ then? The viewer follows in the footsteps of an emaciated stilt-walker, with bad teeth and claw-like hands - Count Orlok, alias Nosferatu. Each of his appearances is like a spell. Murnau's ideas of genius abound: His Nosferatu never forces himself upon others, he simply appears, before the stunned eyes of those he meets. Murnau also films him as an ingenious and macabre handyman, capable of stacking coffins in one go. The director is bold in his deliberate use of astonishingly fast motion, as Nosferatu, who seems so fragile and unsteady, baffles with his rapid and utilitarian strength. Simple and light, this terrible creature strolls through the deserted city hugging his coffin like a traveler carrying a suitcase. Not to be trusted, Nosferatu, who is never touched by Good or Evil, fulfils his destiny. Wherever he goes, torment ensues. Murnau fervently embodies this anguish of Death, which is always so close to life, in recurring shots of nature. Fauna and flora are the distressed witnesses of the vampire's horrific acts. The violent wind and the nervousness of the animals warn the humans that attempting to control everything is futile.




Virginie Apiou



Nosferatu by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (1h24)
Accompanied by the Lyon Opera Orchestra, conducted by Timothy Brock

Opéra of Lyon
Saturday, Oct. 22 at 8pm 






Categories: Lecture Zen