Nosferatu [DVD] [1922]

There are numerous versions of F.W. Murnau's 1922 vampire movie Nosferatu out on video. It is difficult, however, to imagine anyone being able to improve significantly upon the version that Kino International, in conjunction with the Cineteca del Comune di Bologna and the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung, has issued. In addition to an exquisitely sharp image and rich contrast throughout -- setting it apart from the usual scratched, worn, and faded public-domain presentations of the film -- Nosferatu is presented here in carefully balanced but generally radiant tints, which make the movie a special delight to the eye and also help to set the mood and tone of every shot and scene. Couple that quality of presentation with the fact that Murnau shot his expressionist masterpiece on location in the Carpathian mountains, and the resulting viewing experience is spellbinding, if not downright intoxicating. Not that there aren't some flaws -- in a movie over three quarters of a century old, it would be strange if there weren't -- but the occasional missing frame, slight blemish, or momentary image jitter has been cut to the absolute minimum. Couple that with the availability of two different soundtracks on the disc, one composed by Donald Sosin (with vocals by Joanna Seaton) and the other by Gerard Hourbette and Thierry Zaboltzeff, and you've got a lot of movie, and one well worth Kino's asking price. The former score, incidentally, relies a great deal on the sounds of flutes and whistles, as well as various keyboards and strings, while the latter is much busier and relies on percussion and lots of organ and synthesizer parts to underscore the action. The major bonus feature is an archival selection (with score for the silents) of scenes from a half-dozen features made by Murnau between 1920 and 1931, including The Haunted Castle, Phantom, Faust, and Tabu, each running approximately two to five minutes. There is also a comparison section, entitled "Meeting the Count," juxtaposing the manner in which meeting the vampire is presented in Bram Stoker's novel, Henrik Galeen's screenplay for this movie, the way it is presented in the actual movie, and the depicting in an Orson Welles radio version of the same story, from a 1938 Mercury Theater broadcast. And, finally, there is a gallery of photographs and artwork from Murnau's film. The 93-minute movie has been given a generous 18 chapters and also retains the film's breakdown of four "acts." The disc opens automatically on a multi-layer menu that is very easy to maneuver around -- it's also very easy to advance through the onscreen literary excerpts. It's all a very thorough immersion in the film, and, indeed, the only element missing from this edition of the movie is a commentary track.
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Ratings & Reviews

Overall Customer Rating:
Rating 4 out of 5 stars.
84% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (5 out of 6)

Special Features

  • Lengthy excerpts from other films by F.W. Murnau: Journey Into the Night (1920), The Haunted Castle (1921), The Last Laugh (1942), Faust (1926), and Tabu (1931)
  • Choose from two musical scores in digital stereo
  • Photo gallery
  • Scene comparison: Novel, screenplay, & film
  • New and improved English intertitle translation
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition


F. W. Murnau's landmark vampire film Nosferatu isn't merely a variation on Bram Stoker's Dracula: it's a direct steal, so much so that Stoker's widow went to court, demanding in vain that the Murnau film be suppressed and destroyed. The character names have been changed to protect the guilty (in the original German prints, at least), but devotees of Stoker will have little trouble recognizing their Dracula counterparts. The film begins in the Carpathian mountains, where real estate agent Hutter (Gustav von Wagenheim) has arrived to close a sale with the reclusive Herr Orlok (Max Schreck). Despite the feverish warnings of the local peasants, Hutter insists upon completing his journey to Orlok's sinister castle. While enjoying his host's hospitality, Hutter accidently cuts his finger-whereupon Orlok tips his hand by staring intently at the bloody digit, licking his lips. Hutter catches on that Orlok is no ordinary mortal when he witnesses the vampiric nobleman loading himself into a coffin in preparation for his journey to Bremen. By the time the ship bearing Orlok arrives at its destination, the captain and crew have all been killed-and partially devoured. There follows a wave of mysterious deaths in Bremen, which the local authorities attribute to a plague of some sort. But Ellen, Hutter's wife, knows better. Armed with the knowledge that a vampire will perish upon exposure to the rays of the sun, Ellen offers herself to Orlok, deliberately keeping him "entertained" until sunrise. At the cost of her own life, Ellen ends Orlok's reign of terror once and for all. Rumors still persist that Max Schreck, the actor playing Nosferatu, was actually another, better-known performer in disguise. Whatever the case, Schreck's natural countenance was buried under one of the most repulsive facial makeups in cinema history-one that was copied to even greater effect by Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog's 1979 remake - Nosferatu the Vampyre. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Max Schreck
    Max Schreck - Graf Orlok, Nosferatu
  • Alexander Granach
    Alexander Granach - Knock
  • Gustav VonWangenheim
    Gustav VonWangenheim - Hutter, His Employee
  • Image coming soon
    Greta Schroeder - Ellen Hutter
  • Image coming soon
    G.H. Schnell - Harding, Shipowner

Overall Customer Rating

84%of customers recommend this product.

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