Nosferatu was directed by one of the great silent film directors in early cinema, the Acadamy-Award winning (Sunrise, 1927) German director F.W.Murnau. Murnau hadn't received the rights to make a film adaption of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula. To try getting around this, he changed some of the main character names and plot points, such as Count Dracula became Count Orlok and the previously mentioned idea that sunshine killed vampires. The very term "vampire" didn't escape editing, as it became "nosferatu".
|Vampire? Nosferatu? Either way, Max Shreck's Count Orlok is terrifying to look at. photo source|
Even with these changes, Bram Stoker's estate didn't take kindly to the adaptation and sued, with the court ordering the destruction of the film. However, the film had already been shipped and copies survived. The film is in the public domain in the US, but can be seen in a number of different variations and editions, some of which change the character names to correspond back to Stoker's novel.
Legends from the production of Nosferatu include that Max Shreck, who played Count Orlok in the film, was not an actor but instead an actual vampire. Despite this of course not being true, these rumors lead to the creation of the film Shadow of the Vampire (2000).
The 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire, plays off the legend that Max Shreck, the actor portraying Count Orlok in Nosferatu, was an actual vampire rather than an actor playing a vampire. In the film, director W. F. Murnau, portrayed by John Malkovich, finds a mysterious person who he calls Max Shreck to play the vampire Count Orlok. Max Shreck/Orlok, portrayed by Willem Dafoe, is not an actor or even a human at all: he is a vampire pretending to be a human actor playing a vampire.
|The 2000 re-telling of the story behind the classic silent film Nosferatu (source)|
The film shows the fictional production of Nosferatu as the crew begins to have suspicions about the mysterious Shreck/Orlok, especially when it's discovered that Shreck remains in full costume and character at all times, even when they're done with filming for the day. Shadow of the Vampire has great performances, from the entire cast, especially from Malkovich's Murnau and Dafoe's Shreck/Orlok.
Neither are perfect films, but for any fan of horror or silent cinema, Nosferatu is a must watch with the fictional retelling of the story behind the film, Shadow of the Vampire, if only for the acting and ingenuity, a great treat, especially for the Halloween season.
Yours in profoundest grief,