YMMV / Nosferatu


  • Ass Pull: One of the most famous in movie history; F. W. Murnau couldn't figure out how to kill Orlock, so he finally just said "Uh, sunlight? Yeah, that works..." Since then, every vampire in fiction has been vulnerable to it. Incidentally, the effect can also utterly fail if you see the silent film in a version without the tints, since in plain black-and-white, the orthochromatic film stock doesn't distinguish between day and night, and the tints (dark blue for night, amber for day) do the job better to distinguish both.
  • Awesome Music:
    • In the case of Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre, there's another collaboration and brilliant soundtrack by German group Popol Vuh.
    • As well as Richard Wagner's Rheingold, used when darkness falls during Harker's walk to the castle, culminating in him (and the audience) seeing the vampire for the first time.
  • Better Than Canon: More than a few feel that Murnau's film is better than the novel, with Nosferatu being a cooler name than Dracula and being less disparaging of Romanian nationalist sentiments, the location of the novel in some vague German land is also more historically accurate (since Central and Eastern Europe is where vampire legends first came from) than Victorian Britain and of course the Rat Vampire look is scarier than the opera cape and tux look that became de rigeur later on. Among cinephiles the Murnau original is definitely considered the greatest and most artistic film adaptation of the novel.
  • Complete Monster: Count Orlok, the eponymous "Nosferatu," is one of the earliest examples of vampires in cinema and one of the most terrifying. When Thomas Hutter arrives in the Transylvanian Carpathian Mountains, the locals speak Orlok's name in hushed whispers and don't dare to venture out at dark. Upon meeting Orlok, Hutter is attacked and the count tries to feed from him fatally before being repulsed. Hutter witnesses Orlok loading up several coffins to be transported across the sea, and Orlok later kills the crew of the schooner transporting him. The other coffins are revealed to also contain plague-bearing rats, and Orlok's arrival spreads a deathly plague all over Europe. He uses the plague as cover to feed on the people of Hutter's home village of Wisborg without suspicion before Hutter's innocent wife Ellen catches his eye. Orlok attacks Ellen, draining her to death in her Heroic Sacrifice to keep him distracted before the sun rises to destroy him. Orlok had spawned a legion of imitators and while later vampires were portrayed as sophisticated, urbane and charming, Orlok is nothing more than a cunning, evil and ravenous beast that can barely pass as a human being.
  • I Am Not Shazam: "Nosferatu" is not actually Orlok's name. In fact we don't even know what "nosferatu" actually means other than a garbled way to say "plaguebearer." Stoker borrowed the name from some English researcher in Romanian folklore and it's a garbled pseudo-Romanian word that appears in Dracula, which Murnau selected as the title for his movie.
  • Narm:
    • In order to make the carriage seem "Supernaturally fast," they just sped up the camera. In 1922 this certainly looked spooky, but today? Brings Benny Hill to mind.
    • The scene where Hutter/Harker and Orlok/Dracula are commiserating together before Orlok is revealed to be a vampire comes across as kind of hilarious given how incredibly obvious it is the guy is clearly an inhuman monster who reacts very suspiciously to the sight of blood yet Hutter never seems to think too hard on it until it's spelled out for him.
  • Memetic Mutation: Count Orlok's menacing shadow on the wall as he climbs the staircase is not only a legendary image in German Expressionism, but is one of the single most famous images in all of cinema.
  • Nightmare Retardant:
    • In the opening scenes the villagers claim a werewolf roams through the forest at night. The atmosphere is really creepy and the audience wonders what this creature will look like. When the protagonist goes to sleep the camera shows a wolflike creature walking in the forest but falls flat on its face due to having the werewolf being played by a striped hyena.
    • The "plague rats" might have been frightening if they weren't obviously pet rats.
  • Signature Scene: The plague ship massacre especially the final part where Orlock comes on deck and stands in an empty ship all alone after killing all the crew.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Max Schreck looks absolutely phenomenal in his Count Orlok attire, genuinely looking like a hideous monster of the night. Especially impressive for the time it was produced. Part of the reason it worked is because of the greater realism. It's often neglected that this poster-child of German Expressionism made extensive use of location shooting.
  • Watch It for the Meme
    • Some younger viewers watch the film just to find out who was the guy flickering the lights in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants.
    • If you went to a visual art school, chances are you've seen the shot of Orlok's shadow on the wall many, many times.


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