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The Role of the Vampire Film in the Modern Era Sir Christopher Frayling


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Author and film historian Sir Christopher Frayling introduces the cult film Nosferatu and its context within its release year of 1922, which Ezra Pound referred to as ‘year one of the modern era’.

He touches on the occult references and symbols peppered throughout the film, and the links modernist artists had to mysticism and the esoteric. Frayling also introduces the pioneering cinematic techniques used in Nosferatu, from stop motion to cross-cutting, and a few examples of some of the most memorable stills in modern cinema. He traces the history of the genre, arguing that Nosferatu was the first movie to feature a vampire worthy of the supernatural title, rather than simply a femme fatale figure or criminal.

Nosferatu is the first-ever screen adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a simple real-estate transaction leads an intrepid businessman deep into the superstitious heart of Transylvania. There he encounters the otherworldly Count Orlok (portrayed by the legendary Max Schreck, in a performance the very backstory of which has spawned its own mythology) who soon after embarks upon a cross-continental voyage to take up residence in a distant new land. . . and establish his ambiguous dominion.

This was part of Bristol Ideas’ and South West Silents’ 2022 series Modernism 1922, exploring the worlds of film, literature, music, politics and more 100 years ago.

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