Sunday, 6 September 2009

Nosferatu in Serbia

‘It was during the winter of the war year 1916, in Serbia.’

Although other business has kept me occupied most of my time lately, I do spend some time on e.g. updating my collection of material relevant to the history of posthumous magic. So I have e.g. finally gotten around to replacing my old VHS edition of Murnau’s Nosferatu with the magnificent restored edition that has been available for a couple of years now. Apart from the movie itself, this edition contains a booklet that includes a 1921 article written by Albin Grau in which he claims to have heard about vampires while serving in the German army.

’Wißt ihr, eigentlich werden wir alle mehr oder weniger von Vampiren geplagt.’: ’Do you know that we’re all more or less tormented by vampires?’ asks one of his comrades, to which an old peasant says: ‘Before this wretched war, I was over in Romania. You can laugh about this superstition, but I swear on the mother of God, that I myself knew that horrible thing of seeing an undead,’ and he goes on to explain: ’Ja, einen Untoten oder Nosferatu, wie man einen Vampir dort unten nennt.’: ‘Yes, an undead or a Nosferatu, as vampires are called over there. Only in books have you heard those strange and disturbing creatures spoken about, and you smile at these old wives’ tales; but it’s here, where we’re at in the Balkans, that one findes the cradle of those vampires. We’ve been pursued and tormented by those monsters forever.’

Albin Grau then claims to have been shown an official report from the spring of 1844 regarding ‘a blood-sucking dead man or vampiric phantom, in Progatza (Romania)’.

All this, Grau says, inspired him when he was involved in the production of Nosferatu a few years later.

Rob Brautigam presents ‘the vampire of Progatza’ as a potential vampire case, but unfortunately has not identified any place with a name similar to Progatza. He does, however, write: 'Although it could be based on facts, there is the distinct possibility that this is no more than a bit of fiction, thought up to get extra publicity for Nosferatu which had just then been released.'

In any case, Nosferatu has, of course, had an impact on the modern conception of vampires that cannot be underrated. The name of Albin Grau today is probably mostly associated with Udo Kier’s portrayal of him in Shadow of the Vampire.

1 comment:

Leon said...

Excellent post! I love to hear first hand tales, or testimonies indeed, about the possible existence of the supernatural, vampires in particular. I remember reading in a paper long time ago, when the Rev. Montague Summers died, that the last thing he saw was that of a Vampire. Perhaps the heinous monster appeared as courtesy, in view of the Reverend's lifetime dedication to them?

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