nosferatu (murnau 1922)

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An introduction to the style and form of Nosferatu (Murnau 1922)

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  • 1. Style and Form

2. Sets and location The uncanny atmosphere of the film derives from the way thatthe naturalistic is subverted by the surreal. An excessive visual style and a focus on themorbid side of human life 3. Arches The repeated use of arches andcurves of the arches adds visualintensity to scenes by framingthem and guiding our eyestowards the characters. The bridges and doorwayssymbolically emphasise that acharacter is passing from onepsychological state to another passing in and out of thesubconscious 4. Stairs Stairs involve transitions inspace and visually highlightimportant narrative moments;they dramatise psychologicalascents and descents Consider how many ascentsand descents we see in thefilm... 5. Costume, make-up and performance Expressionist use of make up onKnock and Nosferatu tosuggest the uncanny. Their movements seem to obeysecret forces. All performances of allcharacters are exaggerated torelate to the subjectiveemotions of the characters. 6. Cinematography Camera does not move rather Murnaurelied on different camera set ups, varyingshot size and angles, lighting and the carefulstaging of the action in space. Scenes are constructed from relatively shortshots edited together so actions flowsmoothly How do these techniques compare to thosedisplayed in Cabinet? 7. Expressive camera angles Many extreme low angle shots are used togive characters (Nosferatu/Orlok) andsettings (castle) intimidating providence. Theangle highlights the ships rigging, echoingthe spider web in which we have seen Knockscell shortly before. 8. Expressive camera angles... High angle shots arealso to expressiveeffect When Ellen looks fromher window the angleaccentuates thenarrowness of thestreets and theinhabitants are victimsof the plague 9. Composition Space seems to breath (openand close) as there is anoscillation between shallowscenes and scenes of depth. Sometimes shots haveobstacles, frames, recesses,windows etc. To make thecomposition multi-layered =film is a labyrinth. 10. Lighting Film begins in sunlight and enters in a sinistershadow world as the coachman takes Hutterto Orlok. Murnaus semiotic use of light and shadow isdemonstrated throughout the film. The shadow is expressive of Nosferatuspower over the characters and hisembodiment of Jungs shadow archetype the darker/evil side of the human personality. 11. Editing and montage Straight cuts and fade to black to show atransition to another place or time Widely used technique of iris-in iris-out Parallel editing is used to great effect toshow a psychic connection betweencharacters Can you describe several instances in which thistechnique was used? Are there examples of intellectual montage where A+B=C and not AB 12. Effects Accelerated motion Superimposition Stop motion Use of negative What was the purpose ofthese techniques? 13. Inter-titles / sound 75 inter-titles in total Important to our understanding of thenarrative The absence of diegetic sound contributes tothe films other-worldly atmosphere Interesting to note that the film does evokesounds the chiming of the clock, thebreaking of the waves 14. Influence Regarded as a horror classic Salems Lot (Tobe Hooper) In Scream 2, Casey watches Nosferatu on alate-night TV. Coppolas Bram Stokers Dracula developedin the way in which the Counts shadow takeson independent life The odd angles and unusual compositionsbecame known as the German style and werewidely imitated 15. Sociological readings Did the films pave the way forNazism? Kracauer saw German films of theWeimar era as dark anticipations ofthe horrors to come the zietgeist in1920s Germany. An exercise in zenophobia as anti-semitic Ellen represents the German soul at themercy of the property acquiring Jewvampire 16. Kracauer Kracauer never allowed for the possibility that afilm might have an alternative reading or thataudiences might read films in different ways. It is too simplistic to relate the films to the anti-semitism that brought Hitler to power as therewere so many other factors. In addition expressionist films were targeted atan intellectual elite rather than the Germanpublic who enjoyed romantic comedies, crimethrillers etc. 17. Themes The film does, however, portray a threat fromoutside, a threat from the East. Death, disease, social instability anddisrupted relationships were rife. The streets and hospitals of Berlin must havecontained figures as hocking as Orlok withruined faces and near death looks. 18. Themes Marx used the figure of the vampire todramatise exploitation. Nosferatu can be seen as a critical metaphorfor how humanity had been bled dry by warand an aristocratic military elite 19. Psychological readings Horror conventions concerned with repressedsexual desires and obsession with death Descent myth characters who journey frominnocence to a terrible underlying reality whicheither destroys them or leaves them wiser. Nosferatu as Id the unconscious side. Thearches as trying to invoke the forces ofrepression but fail to contain the under-natureof mankind. 20. Psychoanalytical Nosferatu = phallic Arches = vagina Shadow travels up Ellens body and sheclutches her breast orgasm = little death inFrench The film is considered darkly erotic but wemust not let such interpretations spiral out ofcontrol