Few films have defined cinematic horror as fully as Nosferatu, the 1922 silent film by German director F.W. Murnau. Widely believed to be the first ever vampire movie — or at least the earliest surviving example of one — its influence can be found looming overhead in the genre in the century that followed its release. Its imagery remains iconic and the impact it had on vampire mythos as a whole is indelible. And yet it’s a miracle that Nosferatu is even with us today, not only because the vast majority of silent cinema is missing or presumed destroyed, but because efforts were made to actively erase it from history. A major legal battle bankrupted the company that distributed Nosferatu and ordered that all existing prints of the film be burned due to copyright infringement. By all rights, Nosferatu should not exist in 2021, but now, you can find multiple free-to-view versions on YouTube in less than five seconds. The story of Nosferatu is one of legal strife and perhaps the only widely agreed upon case of plagiarism as a beloved work of art.
Content warning: Mentions of animal abuse and grave-robbing.
Media Mentioned / Audio Sources
- Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens
- Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht
- Shadow of the Vampire
- Vampire: The Masquerade / Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines
- What We Do In The Shadows / Wellington Paranormal
- Dracula vs. Nosferatu: A True Copyright Horror Story – Plagiarism Today
- The Nosferatu Story: The Seminal Horror Film, Its Predecessors and Its Enduring Legacy – Rolf Giesen
- The Story Behind “Nosferatu” – Matt Ford
- Six Degrees of Nosferatu – BFI