The Nosferatu Story

The Seminal Horror Film, Its Predecessors and Its Enduring Legacy


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About the Book

Director F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, made in 1921, right after the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic, has become the ultimate cult classic among horror film buffs around the world. For years there was much speculation about the production background, the filmmakers, and their star, the German actor Max Schreck. This book tells the complete story drawing on rare sources. This book tells the complete story, drawing on rare sources. The trail leads to a group of occultists with a plan to establish a leading film company that would produce a momentous series of horror movies. Along the way, the author touches upon other classic German fantasy silents, such as The Golem, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Metropolis.

About the Author(s)

Rolf Giesen, a former visiting professor of animation at the Communication University of China and president of an animation museum in Changchun, China, has compiled a special effects collection for Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin and has co-written several animation features. He is an expert on early fantasy and science fiction films.

Bibliographic Details

Rolf Giesen

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 231
Bibliographic Info: 34 photos, appendix, filmographies, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7298-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3533-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: 100 Years After World War I 1

It Came from Max Reinhardt 5
Paul Wegener and Hanns Heinz Ewers: The Godfathers of German Film Fantasy 7
Conrad Veidt and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 21
Dr. Jekyll, Murnau and Dracula 31
Dracula in Germany: Henrik Galeen and the Screenplay for Nosferatu 35
The Storyline 41
Casting a Man Named “Shock” 62
Shooting Nosferatu in Kafka’s Castle 71
Premiere and Contemporary Reviews 76
Frater Pacitius, Aleister Crowley’s Berlin Disciple 80
Great Plans and Nightly Hallucinations: The ­Ill-­Fated Prana Film Company 83
Fritz Lang Hits It Big—And Murnau Carries On 89
The Vampire Jew and the Curse of ­Anti-­Semitism 103
How the Golem Came Into the World and Fought the Nazis 111
The Revival of Nosferatu 113
Christopher Lee vs. Klaus Kinski 119
Shadow of the Vampire: The Legacy 131

Appendix: Bios of the Crew and Cast of Nosferatu 137
The Nosferatu Filmography 155
Filmography II: The Silent Era of German Expressionist, Fantasy and Alchemical Films 169
Chapter Notes 211
Bibliography 215
Index 217

Book Reviews & Awards

“A must-read book…Giesen’s The Nosferatu Story is a much-welcomed addition to the English language literature on this landmark horror movie. Fans of German Expressionism, vampire films, and the history of occult cinema will definitely want to check it out”—AIPT Comics