Shadow of the Vampire: The Real Dracula - NOSFERATU

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In this image, a still-shot from the 1922 film "Nosferatu," we see Count Orlok's shadow as he climbs a stair. The scene appears at around 79 minutes into the film. The film is freely available in the US; there is a question about its copyright status in Germany. Because the film itself violated the copy rights of Bram Stoker's estate, a British court ordered it to be burned.


Nosferatu, the silent film that still defines the horror genre, died a quick public death. At least that was Florence Stoker’s intention. Thanks to pirated copies, the film (unlike Dracula) survived a court order to burn all negatives and copies.

Trouble followed Murnau’s failure to get story-use permission from Bram Stoker’s estate.

By changing the character names and slightly altering the story line, Murnau thought he could evade copyright restrictions. The famous Count ("Graf") became Orlock, not Dracula. Locations were altered: Bremen for London; Germany for Transylvania. But the essence of the film was the essence of Stoker’s book. Litigation quickly followed release of the movie.

The film was brilliant, but Bram Stoker’s widow (with whom he'd had an unhappy marriage) was adamant. Even though sales of the book (which had been rather limited) would have improved with a popular movie, Florence filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in England against Murnau and his film company.

It didn’t take much for the judge to see through the cosmetic changes. The story was clearly based on Bram Stoker’s work. The court ordered all negatives and copies of the work to be burned.

Of course, an order by a British court wasn’t easily enforced in Germany. Nosferatu survives, in a reworked format, today. (Follow the link to view it.)

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: May 14, 2019

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"NOSFERATU" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2001. Feb 25, 2020.
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