Still image from Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror

Nosferatu at 100

18 July 2022
Posted in: Events, Courses

Earlier this year one of the great horror films celebrated its centenary. An unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, first published in 1897, F. W. Murnau’s silent film, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror premiered in Berlin in March 1922, revealing to the world for the first time a cinematic vampire who has proved difficult to kill off.

As City Lit tutor, and author of a study of the film, Cristina Massaccessi notes, Murnau’s famous Count Orlock, played by actor Max Schreck, is ‘the Ur-Vampire, the father of all undead creatures lurking in the darkest recesses of a cinema screen’, but unlike Stoker’s Dracula, Orlock is ‘a vermin-like creature, more at ease amongst rats than people’ (Massaccessi cited in Barber 2022).

Various theories have been propounded as to the origins of this rodent-like representation of the vampire, with some critics referencing the traumas of World War One, while others, refer to the Spanish Flu epidemic that followed it, where death on an unimaginable scale dominated people’s lives.

Since Murnau’s celebrated film there have been ‘two main strands of cinematic vampires’, argues City Lit tutor, and author of Undead Apocalypse: Vampires and Zombies in the 21st Century, Professor Stacey Abbott: ‘You have the Bela Lugosi tradition of the attractive, alluring vampire, but Orlok set the template for the macabre, pestilence-ridden vampire who is associated with disease and plague. He’s who you turn to when you really want to capture the monstrosity of the vampire’ (Abbott cited in Barber 2022).

Celebrate Nosferatu at 100 with City Lit

If you want to learn more about this haunting film, join us for a study day, during which we will celebrate the centenary of this enduring silent classic, while also exploring precisely why it continues to exercise such power over spectators.

Film Screening & Live Piano Performance

As part of the day, we will screen the film accompanied by a live piano performance, allowing you to experience it as its original audiences would have seen (and heard) it.

This day of reflection and celebration will involve a series of talks by internationally renowned scholars and critics while also providing an opportunity to discuss the film in depth. One hundred years on from its original release, accompany us as we commemorate this landmark filmic ‘fantasia of evil’.

Special Event Study Day

Nosferatu at 100

Date: 15/10/22

Time: 10:30 - 17:30

Location: City Lit, London

Join us for a screening of Nosferatu followed by a large group discussion and talks by a number of tutors/academics


Barber, Nicholas (2022), ‘Nosferatu: The Monster who still terrifies, 100 years on’, BBC Culture, 4th March,