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The Copyright Battle that Gave Cinematic Life to Dracula

‘Nosferatu’ was an illegal adaptation, but the fight over it spawned a monsterous legacy.

Literary Hub

  • Olivia Rutigliano

F.W. Murnau’s silent vampire film Nosferatu, made in Germany in 1922, is very up-front about its resemblance to Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula: it claims in its opening titles to have adapted it to film. This attribution was likely a token tossed in to avoid potential allegations of plagiarism, since Murnau and his creative team did not purchase adaptation rights to Stoker’s text at all.

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