Nosferatu - Eine Symphonie des Grauens

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, Germany, 1922


Tinting film was very common the era of silent cinema. The process consisted of colouring the film in a uniform way, with one of a number of base colours, blue, pink, green, yellow. The black and white film was simply plunged in to a bath of colorant which then gave the film its colour. Depending on the film the colours were either arbitrarily attributed or applied following a well understood symbolic colour coding system – red for fire; pink for love scenes or the rising and setting of the sun; green for the countryside and scenes of nature etc. Night time scenes were traditionally rendered in blue.

In this extract the colour blue dominates, as the action is that of a tense scene at night time. At the start of the film the scenes with the fiancé were coloured with a yellow / orange tint, but since her departure the shots become increasingly blue to represent her mounting sense of anguish. The shot of the book about vampires is the only one tinted in yellow in this extract, which helps to make it stand out, and lend it an ominous tone. The journey from yellow / orange to blue at the start of the excerpt happens on the shot of the curtains and the candle. As in the scene previously analysed from Le Mepris the change of colour takes place in the course of the shot and not by way of the cut between two shots.