Free Essay with Comparative Film Analysis: Nosferatu and Bride of Frankenstein

Published: 2022-03-11
Free Essay with Comparative Film Analysis: Nosferatu and Bride of Frankenstein
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Gender Movie Human sexuality
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1057 words
9 min read

The films Nosferatu and Bride of Frankenstein have been praised as classic horror films of the 20th century. They are considered by many scholars to have inspired the horror movies that followed. Although the movies are based on simple vampire stories, they have elicited many debates on the sexual themes and the gentle reversal of gender roles. That is especially true for Orlock in Nosferatu and Mary in Bride of Frankenstein. While some scholars view these characters from a rigid dichotomy perspective, detailed analyses reveal that their vampire character transcends the sexuality and gender status quo. In particular, Nosferatu illustrates the gender nonconformity that had increasingly become popular during the 1920s in Germany. On the other hand, Bride of Frankenstein illustrates the nonconformity to gender roles that characterized the American society in the 1930s. Thus, this comparative analysis demonstrates how the two movies reflect nonconformity to their respective societies' sexuality and gender roles status quo.

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The Bride of Frankenstein begins with Mary in a room with her friends Percy and Byron. Percy and Byron thank Mary for her story but express their disappointment with the ending of the story. Mary comforts them and continues with the story. As she continues with her story, the viewers see her sitting between two male characters that are not shown or mentioned again in the movie. When the bride is being revealed, Dr. Pretorius and Dr. Frankenstein are standing on both side of the bride. When the camera zooms in, it inversely mirrors the introduction. At this point, the viewers notice that actress Lanchester plays a dual role of the Bride of Frankenstein and Mary Shelley. Young points out that this double-casting is aimed to support the narrative and demonstrate the bride's authority (3). Young concludes that the combined strength of their efforts will ultimately overwhelm the systems

The Bride's role in the movie is a core pillar that attaches all the other main characters to her. For the male characters, she is a representation of the complexity and anxiety about the female sexuality. Also, her sexless production despite the combined attempts of the two males generates feelings of respect and hatred between them. For the female characters, she represents a role model and a doppelganger that fits the German Expressionist style. Although the connection between Shelley's character and the Bride is clear, her relationship with Elizabeth Frankenstein is unclear to the audience. That relationship is provided by the movie's title. Frankenstein is Henry's third name while his wife is called Elizabeth. This shows that Frankenstein has two or more brides because the movie's title does not have the definite article hence the suggestion of this infinite repeatability of women's role.

On the other hand, Orlock's character in Nosferatu is similar to that of Mary in Frankenstein Bride. Williams argues that Orlock's vampire character is a representation of an inhuman sexuality that is both rebellious and seductive (96). That behaviour is demonstrated by Orlock's relationship with other characters. Unlike Mary who had male sexual partners, Orlock does not have women with whom to seduce Hutter or to pleasure himself. Mayne suggests that this disappearance of vampire brides is an illustration that the dichotomy that characterizes female sexuality in the book is substituted by uncertainty (30). Rather than directing his attention toward women vampires, Orlock focuses on males before meeting Ellen. Apart from the homosexual relationship between Orlock and Renfield, Orlock's relationship with Hutter illustrates that he has a nonheterosexual identity. Although the interactions between Hutter and Orlock are viewed as homosocial, the audience believes the existence of a homosexual subtext. That relationship is exhibited when Orlock attacks Hutter while sleeping and in his bedchamber, which are all intimate environments. However, Orlock's interest in females, particularly Ellen, suggests that he is not homosexual entirely. That relationship illustrates similar ideas as the relationships that Orlock has with Hutter and Renfield. While the relationship between Ellen and Orlock is passionate, lustful, and predatory, the relationship between Hutter and Ellen is characterized by puppy love and is less passionate. Given that Ellen has a relationship with Orlock and Hutter, it is expected of her to act like an object of desire. Rather, she refuses to become an object of desire to be fought for by Orlock and Hutter and assumes a more important role. She decides to end the vampire's control while the men stand back offering guidance or as passive players. In particular, she pursues independence and becomes sexual in an attempt to overwhelm the vampire. Although she willingly gives herself over to the passionate relationship, she dies in the process. Through her death, Ellen becomes the hero of the narrative by rescuing her husband which twists the gender expectations of the movie audience. The blending of femininity and masculinity and that of homosexuality and heterosexuality becomes the central idea of the film through characters that oppose sexual norms as well as the gender norms.

Overall, the primary role of a woman during the 1930s in the American society was to become a bride. Also, a bride was the ultimate trophy that men were expected to win. On the other hand, heterosexual relationships characterized the German society in the 1920s. Men were expected to have interest in women only and women were expected to have interest in men only. Also, women were viewed as objects of desire and pleasure for use by men. However, Frankenstein's Bride whose sole purpose is to fulfill the monster's desires defies the masculine demands to submit. As a result, she is feared and hated yet admired than all the other characters in the film. In the same way, Orlock defies the society's norms of a heterosexual relationship and gets into a homosexual relationship with Hutter. Also, Ellen defies the society's expectations of an object of desire and engages in an endeavour that gets her independence and becomes sexual. While the movies have many differences, it is undoubted that they depict the turning point of the society's established gender roles and sexuality.

Works Cited

Young, Elizabeth. "Here Comes the Bride: Wedding Gender and Race in" Bride of Frankenstein"." Feminist Studies 17.3 (1991): 403-437.

Mayne, Judith. "Dracula in the twilight: Murnau's Nosferatu (1922)." German Film and Literature: Adaptations and Transformations (1986): 25-39.

Williams, Andrew P. "The silent threat: A (re) viewing of the" sexual other" in The Phantom of the Opera and Nosferatu." The Midwest Quarterly 38.1 (1996): 90.

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