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Murnau who directed the film ‘Nosferatu’, and Coppola who directed the film ‘Bram Stokers Dracula’ introduce the characters of Orlock AND Dracula in very different ways, and they create different reactions within their audiences, which are of different times. The film ‘Nosferatu’ was released in 1922 and created by the German expressionist Murnau, who was fascinated by the supernatural, and had an obsession with the new art form of the cinema. ‘Nosferatu’ is Murnau’s most famous film, and although it was based on the Novel ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, its title and character names had to be changed due to legal reasons with Bram Stoker’s estate.
Ironically, Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu’ was the making of Stoker’s fame and reputation. The movie inspired dozens of other Dracula films, including the most recent, ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, which was released in 1992. As with ‘Nosferatu’ it is also of the horror genre and is trying to create a feeling of fear and suspense in the viewer.
‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ is also a romantic and erotic love story, accented with touches of skin-tingling terror, bloody gore and violence, much of which is accomplished with elaborate illusionary effects. The film was directed by Francis For Coppola and is surprisingly very unlike Bram Stoker’s novel. Infact it’s set in the wrong century.
As both ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ and ‘Nosferatu’ were made in very different tomes, they both had very different theatrical concerns. For example in ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, Dracula is dressed in a long red robe, which is suggesting the threat from communist China, as its national colour was ‘communist red’.
There is also a threat suggested in ‘Nosferatu’ in a similar way. Orlock has a large nose, hoards money, and rituals with blood. These closely resemble the typical stereotype of a Jew, which German people felt very threatened by at the time the film was produced. This is also backed up with the fact that there is a threat from the East, when most Jews were located compared to Germany. A contemporary audience may not pick up on this as it is not in the forefront of their mind, but when the films were made many more people may have realised the relationship.
When ‘Nosferatu’ was produced in 1922 there was very little technical variety that could be used, when compared to ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ in 1922. In ‘Nosferatu’ the greatest technical devise was the contrast between light and dark. Most of the film is shot in very bright light, as the cameras in those days could not work very well in the dark. The films need to be set in the dark, as from childhood we all relate to the dark as being the time when monsters come out, and horrible things can happen. The director conveyed the fact that it is set in the dark by adding it the dialogue, such as when Count Orlock says ‘It is almost midnight and all my servants have retired’.
This is not present in ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ as by 1922 they had the technology to record sound in sync with the picture, and record in the dark. This is very useful as it helps the viewer to become really involved with the film. Other such technical advances are to do with the evolution of computers, which meant that such special effects as fog and rain could be added later. Nowadays an audience would expect very high-tech effects on screen to arouse their senses, and would not be very pleased with a film such as Nosferatu, which in a modern day view is not very exciting as it is filmed in the daylight, with no stimulating music at all.
Both ‘Nosferatu’ and ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ have crossing over points into the ‘spirit world’. In ‘Nosferatu’ this is conveyed through a bridge over running, which marks their territory, and the subtitle ‘land of the phantoms’. The shot is held for quite a while as it is a very important one. In ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ the crossing over point is conveyed through the presence of a blue fire, which seems to be very mystical and eerie. It is obviously computer generated and unnatural, which adds to the effect.
Another crossing over point is when Harper crosses into Dracula’s castle. A strange shadow like line is used here and tense music, as the camera zooms in on his feet. This is because it is the point of no return, and he is even told to leave he’s happiness behind. A similar technique is used in ‘Nosferatu’ when Harker crosses into the castle. The door opens by itself and Harker seems very hesitant to enter. This makes the audience think that maybe he shouldn’t enter, as it does seem that there will be some danger to him. Both films contain period costumes, which I think look quite realistic. I believe that this is because they are designing old costumes, which would not have been very technical, so could be made very simply. So both costumes of Dracula and Orlock are very similar, as if they were complicated they would not appear to be as sinister.
There is a very important theme of fierce animals throughout both films, but there are differences in how they are used. For example in ‘Nosferatu’ they had to train bats to be filmed in bright light, or the cameras would not be able to pick them up. Bats are used as in the wild some bats feed on the blood of other animal, and only come out at night. This makes them very similar to Dracula and Orlock who have similar lifestyles. In ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ they had the equipment to film in the dark, and many of the animals were filmed in other places, and then added later, or they were computer generated. This would have made the directors job a lot easier as he would not even have to bring some animals onto the set.
Both Orlock and Dracula live in very large castles, these are first seen in both films through the use of a low angle shot, making them seem very tall and forbidding. I believe that castles are used as Orlock’s and Dracula’s home as they can remain untouched for hundreds of years and seem very old, like the characters. Castles are associated as fortresses, which can be impenetrable, and very hard to escape from much like a prison, and ‘wrap up’ Orlock and Dracula as they shield them from what is going on in the outside world around them. They are usually built in the middle of no-where and seem very isolated, making the audiences’ feel that Orlock and Dracula have something to hide from, or don’t want people to escape.
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