Nosferatu Viewing Guide

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Humanities 17: Film Appreciation

Mary Copeland

23 October 2015


Viewing Guide

1. What conventions of the horror genre do you see in Nosferatu?

2. How does Count Orlok differ from other vampires you have seen in movies? Why are these differences significant? How do they inform our discussion of monsters as symbols of psychological horror?

3. How is Orlok represented visually in the movie? What other images are used to show his presence? What do these images suggest allegorically?

4. Women often occupy important, if powerless, roles in horror movies. Please respond to this observation in light of Ellen’s portrayal in Nosferatu. What does the relationship between Hutter and Ellen tell you about the role of women in this context?

5. Describe the relationship between Hutter, Ellen, and Nosferatu. How does the intrusion of Orlok into their relationship function thematically? What do you make of Ellen's behavior? What parallels are drawn between Hutter and Nosferatu regarding Ellen? Why is it significant that Ellen ultimately destroys Nosferatu and not Hutter?

6. Stoker's Dracula, the inspiration for Nosferatu, is often seen as a tale about xenophobia, that is, the fear of the foreign. What does Nosferatu do to maintain or subvert this theme in its source material?

7. The film devotes a fairly significant amount of time to Nosferatu’s passage on board ship. Why? What is significant about the sea and its associations, and how is that significance conveyed by the film?

8. The figure of Nosferatu is continually associated with the plague. What do you make of this association? What is symbolically important about plagues, and how is that symbolism played out here?
9. Nosferatu has a narrator, whose story is often represented for us as discrete pages from a memoir. What do you make of this element of the film? What kind of information or descriptions do these pages provide us?

10. What do you think ‘a symphony of horror’ means? How would the audience react to the word ‘horror’?

11. The titles are written in first-person narration. Who do you assume this narrator to be?

12. The fade-out technique used most often in this film is called an ‘iris’, why is this an effective technique to use when changing scenes?

13. Who is Count Orlock?

14. What motivates Hutter to go on the journey to Transylvania?

15. Close-ups are used effectively in this film to reveal what characters are thinking and feeling. Give one example.

23. How does the tone change in the scene where Hutter tells Ellen of his trip? How does the director show that Ellen is upset about the journey and Hutter is excited?

24. How do you know the villagers are scared of Count Orlock? Why does the Inn keeper tell Hutter not to go at night?

25. What is Hutter’s view of the villagers? How do you know?

26. What is Hutter’s attitude towards the story about vampires and ghosts?

27. An establishing shot of the mountains is used and then creeping, lengthening shadows. What is the effect of this?

28. What are the ‘seven deadly sins’?

29. How do you know something bad awaits Hutter inside the castle?

30. What is effective about Count Orlock’s entrance? Think about the framing, shadows, positioning of actor etc. What is your reaction to Count Orlock? What makes you feel this way? What technique is used? What is the effect of this?

31. What is the effect of Hutter vanishing into the shadows with the Count?

32. Describe Orlock’s movements when Hutter cuts himself. How does Hutter react to Orlock?

33. What do you assume has happened to Hutter when you seen the sun rising as he is slumped in the chair?

34. How are shadows used effectively in this film?

35. Point of view shots work well in the scene where Orlock is revealed as a vampire for the first time and then attacks Hutter in his room. What other techniques are used in this scene to created fear? (consider lighting, shot type, editing, actor movements/positioning, framing)

36. When Orlock’s box is dropped and destroyed rats run out from it. Why are rats used here? What do they symbolize? What is the symbolism behind the open hatch with the rats crawling over it?

37. Why is the scene with the professor and the plants included?

38. Describe the image of Ellen alone on the beach. Why is this effective in creating sympathy for her character?

39. How does Orlock appear from the coffin? Why is this effective? What is it about Orlock that makes him frightening? Orlock carries his own coffin off the ship. What do you think of this idea? Why is it included by the director? Why does the director juxtapose shots of Orlock walking with his coffin and Hutter walking to his house? Why does Orlock move so slowly?

40. Why are we given shots of the ship’s log?

41. What is the cause of the deaths according to the men in the chamber? Why is the shot of the coffins being carried out of town effective? What is the real cause of these deaths?

42. Does the vampire ever make other vampires in this film?

43. The village is quite small, the houses are close together, how does this work in favour of Orlock and the ‘plague’?

44. The scene where Ellen gives herself up to Orlock is particularly horrific. What techniques are used by the director to create this sense of fear and horror?

45. What powers does Orlock have?

46. How are shadows used to convey terror?

47. What camera technique is used to capture Ellen’s fear?

48. We see Orlock feeding on Ellen and then the cock crowing. Why is this used?

49. What happens to Ellen? What is she a symbol for?

50. Do you like the ending of this film? Why or why not?
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