A centennial vampire, between tributes and new versions

But by the end of 2022 the time has come to celebrate the 100 years of an icon of cinema and pop culture. The festivities, as expected, have their epicenter in Berlin, since the film in question is the legendary “Nosferatu” by Fredrich Wilhelm Murnau, which a century ago had its first world premiere in the German capital, a week later. begin its exhibition in the rest of the world.


That was not easy since the film was nothing more than an undeniable plagiarism of the 1897 novel “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, for which reason Murnau’s producers found themselves involved in legal problems that ended up making the masterpiece of the cinema was a commercial failure. Since last Friday, the exhibition “Phantoms Of The Night -100 Years Of Nosferatu” can be seen in the Berlin gallery Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection, which analyzes from all angles, not only the cinematographic, this film as immortal as its monstrous protagonist, which many understand as the masterpiece of German expressionism and which included other great filmmakers. like Fritz Lang (“M – The Vampire”, “Metropolis”) and Robert Wiene (“The Cabinet of Doctor Calegari”). A colored fact (red): the exhibition charges an entrance, but those who want to donate blood have free admission. An excellent resource for solidarity campaigns for this type of donation.

The Berlin exhibition goes far beyond cinema and although it shows all the poster art and the original release of “Nosferatu”, as well as its plot differences with Bram Stoker’s novel, alluding to the horrible Murnau vampire, far from the Gardelian Latin lovers like Bela Lugosi who would come later, somehow represented the xenophobic and even anti-Semitic prejudices of the time.

The exhibition also explains how the epidemic that had decimated Europe at the end of the First World War had influenced Murnau, the so-called Spanish Fever (which was mentioned so much during the covid 19 pandemic as a precedent), hence the presence of documentary material from rats, hyenas and even microbes taken under a microscope that the director of “Faust” combined with the image of the vampire.

Just like other expressionist masterpieces that recently turned 100 years old, such as the aforementioned “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” by Wiene (1919) and the much imitated “The Three Lights or Tired Death” by Fritz Lang, which due to its special effects it was very avant-garde for 1921 and was immediately copied in Hollywood by Douglas Fairbanks and Raoul Walsh for their “Thief of Bagdad.” Some experts dare to affirm that it even influenced George Lucas’ “Star Wars”. “Nosferatu” had re-releases, special features and reissues around the world during this 2022, including exhibitions in theaters and even a brand new Israeli blue ray released a few weeks ago, although the cultural poverty of streaming is evident by its denial to all kinds of classic cinema, not to mention the masterpieces of silent cinema.

Beyond the plastic force and visual originality of Murnau’s “Nosferatu” there is something that is clear and it is the attraction that the character of Dracula and vampires in general exerts on the public of all times, to the point that the Count de Stoker continues to be one of the most filmed characters in movie history along with Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes.

Precisely in April 2023, Dracula will come out of his coffin again, this time played by Nicolas Cage in the black comedy “Renfield” starring Nicholas Hault in the role of the most famous vampire’s fly-eater assistant.

As far back as 1979, Werner Herzog directed an obsessive, near frame-for-frame recreation of Murnau’s “Nosferatu,” starring Klaus Kinski, Bruno Ganz and Isabelle Adjani. In 2000, E. Elias Merhige directed the film “Shadow of the Vampire”, a fantastic version of the “making” of “Nosferatu” which postulated that its original actor, Max Shreck (played by Willem Dafoe), was a real vampire who did de Murnau (John Malkovich) one of his victims. That was inspired by the almost zero biographical data of Shreck in the history of cinema. In 2020 a new “Nosferatu” appeared, but animated, and at least two new remakes are planned, one based on Herzog’s version and the other directly inspired by the centenary masterpiece.

A centennial vampire, between tributes and new versions