The Use Of Expressionism In Nosferatu, A Symphony Of Horror?
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Fig. 1 Nosferatu climbs the staircase
The shadow of an elongated figure looms on the wall, and with agonising slowness, mounts the staircase to where his helpless victim lies waiting. This image (see Fig. 1) has been called “the most sinister use of shade in all Weimar cinema, a field crowded with strong competitors” (Jackson,91). Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror, was made in 1922 at the height of German Expressionism, and while not a pure example of Expressionist film the way The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is, it still distorts reality to convey the inner experience of its subjects. Nosferatu takes place in a nightmarish world which seems to come from the deep-rooted psyche of the German mind between the two world wars. Nosferatu is unmistakably based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but to get around the copyright issues, names, characters and the setting are changed, as is the ending. However, this did not stop Stoker’s estate from suing the film company for copyright infringement, leading to the court order that all prints be destroyed. The film only survives from the copies of prints that were sent outside of Germany.
In the film, Jonathan Harker is now Hutter, a real estate agent in Bremen (some prints say Wisborg), who is sent to do business with Count Orlok/Nosferatu in Transylvania by his employer Knock (Renfield). Knock is Orlok’s accomplice, communicating with him by letters filled with occult symbols, and later, through telepathy. Seeing a picture of Hutter’s wife