F.W Murnau’s film Nosferatu starts off with an eerie title sequence, the background is black with green writing and a ‘symphony of horrors’ is playing in the background. This allows the audience to immediately recognize what type of genre the film is going to be, as black is commonly associated with dark or evil and green is linked with something quite sinister or often monster like. It’s also helps build atmosphere. As does the beating in the music, as it increases it resembles a heart beat (something which you would expect from a ‘horror’ film)
When the first page of writing appears it is in a book, this makes it seem like someone is retelling a story.
And the gothic style of writing gives another hint to the genre of the film.
The first actual shot is an establishing shot of the small town, as though the audience is looking into someone’s life. The Irish shot lets the audience focus on that particular part or in another case could be used to make you feel claustrophobic as though you cannot see the whole picture.
In the foreground is a church, this is usually a symbol of stability and order in society – this sets up the fact that this is when the film is in equilibrium.
In this type of film, which is a silent film, the audience relies on music and words alone to identify when something scary is going to happen or when something is not.
In the opening sequence the music is light hearted and ‘jolly’, this makes the audience aware nothing shocking will happen (yet) and feel comfort at this particular point. Later on whilst knock is reading the letter he was sent from the Count the music becomes more threatening. This very effectively puts the audience on edge.
Another key factor in Nosferatu is the colour tint in each scene, Yellow represents daylight and ideologically is an indicator that all is well at this time. In Nosferatu the yellowish colour appears mostly alongside the ‘light hearted’ music for example whilst Hutter is getting ready in the morning and greeting his wife.
During the same scene Hutter gives his wife some flowers, yet she is upset because he has killed the beautiful flowers and cut them off from their life source. This is an important thing to take notice of because the flowers are dead and that may also be her fait. Mena (the wife) is dressed in pale clothing; this highlights her innocence and weakness. Also it makes her a target for the Count. (As in many Vampire films)
The next scene when Knock is reading his letter from the Count, it can be observed that a skull and cross bones appears on it, this is a sure symbol of bad and might be the starting point to the disequilibrium because it introduces the idea of the Count coming to the town. And in this particular shot, F.W Murnau positions Knock higher than Hutter to show that he is superior to him, ideologically knock has the power to use Hutter to lure victims to the count.
Nosferatu was made at the time of the 1st world war; this is significant to the content of the film because Murnau would have included things naturally as it was real to him. For example he saw a lot of active duty during the war. Secondly which comes later in Nosferatu, the plague is thought to be the cause of the sudden deaths in the town that have occurred recently and in real life at the time there was a disease about called Typhoid which could be linked to him using this idea in the film.