Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (translated as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror; also known as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror, or simply Nosferatu) is a 1922 German Expressionist horror film, directed by F.W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. The film was in essence an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel.


Thomas Hutter lives in the fictitious German city of Wisborg. His employer, Knock, sends Hutter to Transylvania to visit a new client named Orlok. Hutter entrusts his loving wife Ellen to his good friend Harding and Harding's sister Ruth, before embarking on his long journey.

Nearing his destination in the Carpathian mountains, Hutter stops at an inn for dinner. The locals become frightened by the mere mention of Orlok's name and discourage him from traveling to his castle at night, warning of a werewolf on the prowl. In his room, Hutter finds a book, The Book of the Vampires, which he peruses before falling asleep.


The next morning, Hutter dresses and packs, light heartedly including the book in his bags. After a coach ride to a high mountain pass, the coachmen decline to take him any further, as nightfall is approaching. A sinister black swathed coach of an archaic design suddenly appears and the coachman (obviously Orlok in disguise) gestures for him to climb aboard. Past midnight, Hutter is welcomed at the castle by Graf Orlok himself, who excuses the poor welcome as the servants have all gone to bed. While Hutter has a late dinner, Orlok reads a letter. When Hutter cuts his thumb, Orlok tries to suck the blood out of the wound, but his repulsed guest pulls his hand away. Hutter then falls asleep exhausted in the parlor.

He wakes up to an empty castle and notices fresh punctures on his neck, which he attributes to mosquitoes. That night, Orlok signs the documents to purchase the house across from Hutter's own home. Orlok sees Hutter's miniature portrait of his wife and admires her beautiful neck. Reexamining The Book of the Vampires, Hutter starts to suspect that Orlok is Nosferatu, the "Bird of Death". He cowers in his room as midnight approaches, but there is no way to bar the door. The door opens by itself and Orlok enters, his true nature finally revealed. At the same time, Ellen sleepwalks and screams for Hutter. She is somehow heard by Orlok, who leaves Hutter untouched.

The next day, Hutter explores the castle. In its crypt, he finds the coffin in which Orlok is resting dormant. Horrified, he dashes back to his room. From the window, he sees Orlok piling up coffins on a coach and climbing into the last one before the coach departs. Hutter escapes the castle through the window by tieing together strips of the bed linen, but has to jump when his improvised rope runs out, and is knocked unconscious by the fall. He is taken to a hospital. When he is sufficiently recovered, Hutter hurries home.


Meanwhile, the coffins are shipped down river on a raft. They are transferred to a schooner, but not before one is opened by the crew. Inside, they find soil and rats.

Under the long-distance influence of Orlok, Knock starts behaving oddly and is confined to a psychiatric ward. Later, Knock steals a newspaper, which tells of an outbreak of an unknown plague spreading down the coast of the Black Sea. Many people are dying, with odd marks on their necks. Knock rejoices.

The sailors on the ship get sick one by one; soon all but the captain and first mate are dead. Suspecting the truth, the first mate goes below to destroy the coffins. However, Orlok awakens and the horrified sailor jumps into the sea. Unaware of his danger, the captain becomes Orlok's latest victim.

When the ship arrives in Wisborg, Orlok leaves unobserved, carrying one of his coffins. (A passage in The Book of the Vampires reveals that the source of a vampire's power is the soil in which he was buried.) He moves into the house he purchased. The next morning, when the ship is inspected, the captain is found dead. After examining the logbook, the doctors assume they are dealing with the plague. The town becomes stricken with panic.

Hutter returns home. Ellen reads The Book of Vampires, despite his injunction not to, and learns how to kill a vampire: a woman pure in heart must willingly give her blood to him, so that he loses track of time until the cock's first crowing. There are many deaths in the town. The residents chase Knock, who has escaped after murdering the warden, mistaking him for a vampire.

Orlok stares from his window at the sleeping Ellen. She opens her window to invite him in, but faints. When Hutter revives her, she sends him to fetch Professor Bulwer. After he leaves, Orlok comes in. He becomes so engrossed drinking her blood, he forgets about the coming day. A rooster crows and Orlok vanishes in a bit of smoke as he tries to flee. Ellen lives just long enough to be embraced by her grief-stricken husband. The last image of the movie is of Orlok's ruined castle in the Carpathian Mountains.

Main Characters Edit

Count Orlok is the main antagonist portrayed by German actor Max Schreck (1879-1936) in the 1922 silent film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens. Count Orlok is based off of Bram Stoker's Count Dracula.

In Nosferatu, Count Orlok is a vampire living in the mountains of Transylvania and is commonly known as "The Bird of Death". He lives alone in a vast castle among the crevices of the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. Since he is the lone inhabitant of the castle and the surrounding lands, his home is in a decrepit state, especially since, like all vampires, he is not active during the day. Unlike recent adaptations of vampires, Orlok is a quiet being and even though Nosferatu is a silent film, he says little to nothing throughout the film. In terms of appearance, Count Orlok is quite hideous and cruel-looking. He has a large and lanky stature that scarily matches with his hands and fingers. It also almost seems like the director took the face of a gargoyle for use as a mask for the character of Count Orlok.

In other versions, such as in the 1931 film Dracula, vampires are portrayed as still evil but more human in appearance and given the ability to blend in with others unless confronted with the common deterrents of vampires such as crosses, open flames, and sunlight. In Nosferatu, such items are still foes of Count Orlok, however he is not a very sociable being and can be easily picked out from a crowd as possibly being "unusually unique" in his own special way. One large factor that the screenwriter changed from the stereotypical vampire is that Count Orlok cannot be killed with a stake through his heart. The only way to exterminate the Count is if a pure-hearted woman willingly lets him feed from her long enough for the sun to rise, thus keeping the Count from seeking a dark and secluded haven.

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Differences from Dracula: A Nazi Connection?Edit

Unlike Dracula, Orlok notably fails to create other vampires and merely brings death to the villagers. He is physically repugnant and charmless, yet oddly hypnotic simultaneously. The foul brown rats perpetually accompany him. The vast majority of secondary characters are removed along with Van Helsing. Orlok has therefore elicited comparison with Hitler for his destructiveness and hypnotic behaviour and the SA may have become his faceless brown rats, very much a connection with real life.

Max SchreckEdit

Freidrich Gustave Max Schreck was the portrayer of Orlok. His last name appropriately means "fright" but has caused confusion, leading some to incorrectly speculate that he was a more famous actor with a psuedonym. He had "humor and skill" in playing the grotesque, and enjoyed walking in forests.

"Related" worksEdit

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