The film Nosferatu emphasizes the importance of imagery in our understanding. While the music did play a role in the suspense of the movie, a large majority came from what was portrayed in a particular scene. For example, when Hutter first saw Nosferatu creep into his room the lighting of the event was key. There was a dark shadowy abyss in the room in which Hutter peered into. Only Nosferatu's face was revealed. This gave a deeply nightmarish feel to the situation, especially once Nosferatu glided into the room to attack. The way one sees the world is very important, especially in films, yet even in real life. Reminds me of your story, a minute long clip of Deep Blue from a distance would look like nothing more than a giant geyser. However, if the clip was done from an overhead view to see the "fire" build up, then you pan out to give a feel of just escaping the grasp is an entirely different feel. This is much like Nosferatu, every shot and lighting and effect was done specifically to give off the emotions the director wanted the audience to feel.
The film was very unique in its combination between language and the scenes portrayed. Since it is a silent film in nature, the infrequent use of text caused the words chosen to have a greater importance. Not only were the words carefully utilized to display plot details, the font of the words helped convey the tone of the movie. The styling was intensely gloomy and harsh echoing the abysmal theme of the film. The letters almost seemed to blur into each other portraying the importance of shadows throughout the piece. The camera often shot in dark corners capturing shadows to further emphasize the horror aspect. These fascinating angles can be seen throughout the film including inside Count Orlok's castle and Hutter's trip to and from the castle. Not only does the use of shadows contribute to the overall theme of darkness and disaster, but the particular font used for text inserts adds greatly to the effect.
As a silent film, visual drama became the most important aspect of Nosferatu. Lighting and colored filters did a lot to evoke certain emotions in a scene – purple or black and white filters would often cast a darker light over horror scenes. Sped up scenes would sometimes be used to create a sense of unearthliness, bringing to light the monstrous and inhuman nature of Nosferatu. One of the more interesting techniques that was used however, was in a particular section of the movie, when the film showed a professor and his students studying a Venus fly trap plant. While the film was mostly based in a fantasy setting, this scene shows a natural example of a murderous creature. Immediately following this, we see Knock in his cell, as he watches a spider devour the prey caught in its web. These symbols for Nosferatu bring the more fantastical depiction of horror a realistic foil. With the image of the spider in mind, we then watch Nosferatu murder a sailor tied down by the ropes of the ship, trapped in a web and unable to escape. These images work together to not only create a horrifying fantasy film, but to show its viewers that this horror exists in the natural world as well.
The film Nosferatu uniquely presents the linguistics in a silent film, occasionally creating dramatic irony specifically for Hutter and providing a greater significance in the audiences understanding. Not only is the selection of words important throughout the film, but also the font as well as word selection play a significant role. The letter from Count Orlok create dramatic irony because the language is symbols rather than letters revealing the language is foreign to the townspeople. The symbols on the page seem unorganized and the ink bleeds, making it difficult for the eye to focus on. There is a lot of linguistics for a silent film. In every other scene there are either a few words from the book or a paragraph giving an explanation of the previous or following scene. All of the words are written in ink with cursive handwriting. The combination of the cursive font and bleeding of the ink forces the audience to concentrate on what the words say because the font is difficult to read. The words from the lace book reveal what must be done to destroy the vampire but Hutter lacks this knowledge. Throughout the film the language gives the audience a greater understanding as well as creating dramatic irony.
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With a lack of vocal sound, the visuals in Nosferatu were extremely important. One interesting aspect of the film was the use of specific perspective shots. By restricting what the audience saw, it forced the viewers to pay attention to certain details. It also helped to describe what each character was thinking at that moment in time, helping to fill the lack of words. For example, when Hutter cut his thumb on the bread knife, the film shot directly at his blood to signify it as an important detail to Count Orlok and to the overall story. In addition, the film used a great deal of deep shadows and sped up motions. This is what gave it the horror factor. More attention was also put towards the facial expressions and gestures of the characters to show emotion. Although the film was shot in a fairly simple manner, these details, along with the eerie music, created a suspenseful and slightly terrifying aura. Linguistically, the story page inserts helped to frame the story. Many times the cursive font was difficult to read, adding terror to the scenes. The book Hutter referenced numerous times throughout the film also helped to frame the events that were happening and predicted a dooming future. Overall, the film portrayed this haunting story in a unique and artistic manner.
The use of musical themes and color filters in place of audible dialogue creates a sense of suspense unique to silent film. Furthermore, the emphasis of certain passages and words adds to the suspense. It is this use of music and words in place of dialogue that makes this film interesting in the context of this class, especially as it relates to current film techniques. Currently, films typically rely on dialogue and advanced special effects to create suspense and tell a story. This film shows that even simple effects (color filters), and musical themes (the repetitive use of certain musical elements during certain situations) are capable of telling an engaging story while transferring the emotion of the scene to the audience.
In a film, spoken language can be used to express emotion. The technological limitations of the past initially did not allow for this to happen, which meant that silent works such as Nosferatu were forced to convey their meanings in less conventional ways. After World War I, when this was released, movies would be played in tandem with live music. This music could be used to tell audiences what they should be feeling at any given time; for instance, when Count Orlok was watching, or stalking, Hutter or his wife from the background, the music sounded tense and haunting. This music, coupled with the small bits of information given though the use of writing (as opposed to voices) and the use of the camera, successfully sets the tone of this film and others done in the same time period.
The film Nosferatu is an interesting example of how words and images can work together in surprising ways. Often, the voices of the actors in a movie contribute greatly to the movie itself by generating emotions and drama. However, Nosferatu, along with other silent films, proves that a classic and enjoyable movie can be created using mainly creative lighting, and body language. The movie Nosferatu focuses heavily on the use of shadows; it mentions the shadows in the written narrations of the movie, and the characters often emerge from the shadows or, in Nosferatu’s case, reside in them. These shadows give the movie visual interest and intrigue, and they help to tell the story. Watching this silent film is similar to reading a picture book. The scenes are interrupted by blurbs of explanatory text throughout the movie, but the main focus is on the characters’ movements and gestures. In children’s books, many pages contain large detailed pictures with very few words. The children who cannot read depend on the pictures to tell the story for them; the facial expressions of the characters drawn in the books help the children follow the story. In Nosferatu the body language is what actually tells the story, helped by the angles of the camera. The camera frequently zooms in on the actor’s exaggerated faces, adding drama to the scene, and helping to narrate the story. For example, in the scene when Count Orlok first sees the picture of Hutter’s wife, viewers can tell by the widening of his eyes that he is interested in her even before Nosferatu’s words appear on screen. Another example is evident when Hutter mentions he is in a hurry to get to Count Orlok's home while dining at the pub. Viewers can see the extreme distress in the eyes of the other people in the pub. It now becomes apparent to the viewers that Count Orlok is a character that should be feared. The narrations on screen provide details for viewers, but the acting and lighting provide interest and drama while propelling the story along and developing the plot.
Prior to this week, I had never seen Nosferatu or very many silent films. After reading a few of these reviews, it is also apparent that I watched a different 1922 version of this film than the class did, due to different character names. One thing that always catches my eye about films like Nosferatu is the expression of emotion. From the very beginning of the film, the viewer is aware that Nina is going to be an important character just from the way she displays her love for Jonathon Harker. When Jonathon tells Nina that he is leaving for several months to go to a far off land, her emotion of worry is felt by the viewer. Nina's later faces of love, sorrow, and illness keep the viewer connected to the plot throughout the film and shows what it looks like to be in love. The expressions of each character are very clear and provide a solid foundation of understanding for the film. Unlike scripted films, there is no worry about misinterpreting the meaning of a line or not quite catching what is said by a particular character. If this film were to be scripted, it would not be as meaningful to the audience and would provide an entirely different viewing experience.
The film Nosferatu explores the relationship between words and images mainly through its comparison to the world at the time it was made. The Great War had just ended a couple of years before and the world had a very apocalyptic feel to it. As Hutter is traveling to Count Orlok’s castle the landscape is barren and bleak like that of no-man’s-land in northern France. There are few trees or grass or anything that would even resemble being alive, and simply looks bombed out and devoid of life. There is no hope for this landscape to ever recover and look welcoming to anyone, as if going into this void would be the end. This draws a parallel to the characteristics to Europe at the time, especially Germany, where there was almost no hope for recovery and every day was a depressing hell for the people that had to live in it. As Hutter goes towards Orlok’s castle the landscape shows him that he is heading into this hell and he might not make it out. This is a theme throughout the film that portrays Orlok as the inevitable end that is coming. The fact that it is a silent film and relies on music to invoke feeling helps towards this point by using a suspenseful dirge when Orlok is advancing towards his victims, one that puts terror into viewers and the conviction that there is no escape from this end.
The film Nosferatu explored the border between the supernatural and reality through an interpretive narrative and vocally silent mise-en-scène. I found it particularly interesting of the film to utilize a certain style of body language from the Transylvanian locals, and later the German residents, which portrayed a primitive fear reaction to the mention of dark magic and lore. This sense of terror from the locals represented how much influence the fear of the unknown mixed with superstitious beliefs held within their humble lives. This influence is illustrated in particular when the protagonist, a humble real estate representative, leaves the usual securities of his German town of Wisborg. On his way to sell a decrepit property to a mysterious buyer only known as Count Orlock, he stops at an inn for rest and food before continuing on to the castle. As he expressed his nature of business, the visceral reaction excited from the locals spoke bounds regarding their feelings surrounding Count Orlock’s. This was his first experience conversing about his future client with anyone other than his boss, and was the grounds for exposing Orlock’s shadowy nature and unsavoraty rapport with the locals. This entire encounter within the inn well foreshadowed the grave reality of the scenario Hutter would soon discover well through the use of image and text.
This was the second time I've watched Nosferatu and it's interesting to note the little differences in the versions I saw. The main differences I noticed were the soundtrack and the dialog cards. The music in the first version I watched was more classical than the one we watched in class, and it certainly gave it a different feel. While I feel the more classical score fit the style of the movie better, the music in the version we watched in class did manage to make the scenes with danger in them more suspenseful. More relevant to the class, are the differences in the dialog cards. In the first version I watched the cards were in the original German with subtitles. English being my first language, the German with subtitles gave it a bit of an otherworldly, fairy tale quality, which was probably unintentional. I could say that it was simply a choice in translation, but due to associations I had with the German language it seemed a bit more fantasy-like. In the film we watched in class they were fully replaced with English cards, less cluttered and more natural to a native English viewer. In the one we watched in class the cards also seemed to be on screen for a shorter time, and, I'll be honest, you had to do a bit of speedy reading to keep up. I don't know whether that was done to fit the different soundtrack or add a bit of urgency to the film, because it certainly succeeded in doing both. Being a silent film, the dialog cards play a very important role. Differences in what is written, the font it is written in, any background design to the cards, and even how long the cards sit on screen can all significantly change the feel of a silent film. A few of those differences I saw firsthand.
Nosferatu is a classic the the horror genre. Because it has no spoken dialog, the images and sound effects are much more prominent in evoking emotions such as fear and surprise. One technique used in the film is the changing of camera lenses. Most of the movie is shot with long shots. One particular case when long shots is powerful is when the plague hit the town, nearly every family is affected. In a long but lifeless street, the only one walking are families carrying their loved ones in coffins. By using a long lens, viewers get a sense of what a big scale the plague is ravaging. By contrast, another powerful scene which utilizes close-ups is the scenes of rats crawling out of coffins on the ship and later on land. In this case, zooming in on the rats racing out of coffin is truly a horrifying because you can see every dirty hair on the rats and their moist looking tails. As a viewer, my shoulder shrugged and shivered as I watched that scene.