on 27 September 2006
I am a music student aged 18 - and we had to watch this in a lesson (because of the soundtrack) and i must say i was blown away. this movie was absolutley terrific.
I am a huge horror movie fan and i love getting scared - but this was very scary!
people say in these reviews that it isnt scary - but they have to see the movie in an atmospheric and imaginative point of view, and considering this was made over 80 years ago, its pretty damn awesome - loved it!
on 17 January 2004
If youre a fan of Nosferatu and want to see the original uncut version with the best quality out there (restored by the Munchner Filmmuseum and the Cineteca del Comune di Bologna - It replicates the tints and tones revealed in the nitrate ORIGINAL)..... then this is the BEST release of Nosferatu out there.
The soundtrack is great, music score by James Bernard (who scored many horror movies including 58s Dracula).
The DVD also includes a film essay by Professor Sir Frayling, Bio of Murnau and Bernard and DVD-ROM notes on the restoration of the film.
There are other versions out there, one including 2 dvds and a NOT COMPLETE version of the movie, with lousy misplaced soundtrack.
This is the only version you need if you want the REAL thing.
on 30 November 2007
This is an important release. I doubt if even the director saw the movie looking as good as it does now! I honestly believe he'd sob with joy and amazement at the way his great film has been honoured. The restoration is quite stunning. Here we have a film from the birth of cinema looking immaculate. If you like horror films then this film has to be in your collection. If you like cinema you should have this film. Sorry to go on but after years of watching scratched, badly cropped and 'knackered' copies Masters of Cinema have made my day. Check out the 'extras' and 80 page book! It's a joy.
Can we please have Cabinet of Dr Caligari restored now please?
on 13 January 2001
Few words capable of raising the hackles on the necks of both grownups and children alike.
Nosferatu was the world's first full length horror movie. It was conceived and directed by German director Friedrich W. Murnau. The script is based on an unauthorised adaptation of the classic Bram Stoker "Dracula" story.
In 1921, when legendary filmmaker Murnau set about making the first adaptation of Dracula for the silver screen, he ran into a little snag: Stoker's widow denied permission for her husband's work to be used. 80 years later, it is unclear whether Florence Stoker wanted more money than Murnau was offering or whether she simply didn't want the movie made, but the director was unfazed by her refusal and went ahead with the project. His only concessions were to change the names of the characters and to make some minor plot alterations. However, anyone familiar with Dracula would immediately recognize Nosferatu as a transparent adaptation.
The most obvious difference between the vampire in Nosferatu and the one of nearly every other version of Dracula is the creature's appearance. Orlock is presented as a walking cadaver - an emaciated monster with a bald head, pointed ears, rat-like front teeth, elongated fingernails, and a stiff gait (rumor has it that aspects of Orlock were used in the creation of the creature for the 1931 version of Frankenstein). Beginning with Bela Lugosi and extending through the '90s, it has become commonplace to portray vampires as urbane, charismatic individuals whose sexual magnetism is reflected in their appearance. It's hard to imagine someone as openly hideous as Orlock seducing a woman - and that's precisely one reason why Nosferatu is so unsettling. Like every other vampire movie, Nosferatu has a deeply erotic undercurrent. Orlock possesses a power of compulsion - one that is belied by his gaunt and horrific appearance. Young children who smile at an image of Lugosi's Dracula may shriek in horror when confronted by Schreck's Orlock.
While sexuality is never overtly referred to or expressed in Nosferatu, it is a constant influence that only the most naïve or obtuse viewer would miss. The Count's relationship, such as it is, with Hutter, shows hints of homoerotic interaction. Their dance of seduction, however, remains unconsummated beause Orlock's attention shifts to Ellen. As has always been the case in vampire stories, the drinking of blood is a poorly concealed metaphor for sex, and this is evident in the way Orlock feeds on Ellen.
Duality is a prominent theme in Nosferatu. By using Hutter and Orlock to symbolically represent two halves of a complete individual, Murnau allows the film to explore the Jekyll & Hyde split between man's civilized and bestial natures. Hutter is the childlike innocent who cares for his wife in a platonic manner and reacts to circumstances with wide eyed amazement. Orlock, on the other hand, is animalistic. His advances towards Ellen are fueled entirely by his base needs, and are grounded in sexuality in a way that the metaphorically emasculated Hutter could not comprehend. In that way, Hutter and Orlock complement each other. Ellen gains from each of them what she cannot have from the other.
Various versions of the original film exist, some feature different titles than others and even a colorized version (where different scenes are tinted in different colored duplex tones that seem fairly random at times) has been made, alledgedly approved by the director. Essentially there are two different versions, the older (original) one calls the Nosferatu "Count Orlock" instead of the name used in the later version "Count Dracula". There are other variations in names and some titles even give a different explanation of the story but I won't tell you all this before you see the film...
As vampire movies go, few are more memorable than Nosferatu, which is not only the first screen version of Dracula, but, in some ways, remains the best. Unlike many of his predecessors who dabbled in the vampire genre, Muranu was a craftsman, and the care he lavished upon this production is evident in each shot and every scene. Alongside The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, few motion pictures have had a more profound impact upon an entire genre than Nosferatu has had upon the legion of horror movies that trailed in its wake.
on 28 May 2011
Nosferatu has been one of my fave films for some years now. The first real vampire film! (And I'm not usually into these things) and it was with excitement that I received this shiny new Eureka edition for Christmas.
We're lucky to have this film, considering Mrs. Stoker tried to have it destroyed for y'know, unbeleivably ripping off Dracula without permission. But even with repeated (supposedly sucessful) attempts to remove every copy, somehow this film has survived.
And I'm so glad!
Points in brief -
Those familier with the Dracula tale will need no review of the storyline. The names are different, but most of the plot is there. As for Orlok (Dracula)... he is superb. Max Schrek did a fabulous job, right down to the lack of blinking, the stiff movement becoming suddenly frighteningly swift and smooth when he swoops in for Ellen (Mina), the lack of emotion, bar a few moments where Orlok exhibits some fabulous tinges of excitement, relief and finally, terror. But my favourite part of him has to be that magnificent shadow, that creeps up stairs and reaches out, opening doors and stealing souls. A lot of older films these days can't be said to be scary anymore, and while this may be true of Nosferatu for some, he certainly still sends a chill down my spine.
This edition features the original score, which is unintrusive and adds to, rather then blares out, what's on the screen. It also features tinting, original to the first-aired copies if not to the copies sent abroad.
And thats before we get to the on-screen images. When I first put this film in and hit play, I had to pause it and shed a few tears. This edition is cleaned to absolute perfection. It's beautiful.
I really hope more people buy and watch this film. It's finally been given the attention it deserves, and it certainly sends me up and down the emotional scale when I watch it. Long live Nosferatu!
This first on screen dramatisation of Bram Stoker's classic Gothic tale, Dracula (the name was changed for copyright reasons), set the bar incredibly high for later films. F.W Murnau serves up an amazingly dark vision, quite different from the opera capes and suavity traditionally associated with Dracula ever since Bela Lugosi's characterisation. Apart from the name changes, this version is one of the closest to the book I can remember.
Subtitled `Eine Symphonie Des Grauens' (A Symphony Of Terror), the piece seems almost operatic in its scale and flows like a nightmarish ballet. The accompanying soundtrack, a new full orchestral recording of the newly rediscovered original score, helps create this feel.
Max Schreck's Count Orlock is as far removed from Christopher Lee's Gentlemanly Count as it is possible to get. Here the vampire is presented as a force of nature, totally bestial and demonic. Utterly unable to integrate into normal society and pass for human he lives a parasite on the outskirts, using low cunning and demonic powers in order to obtain a new food supply. Where as you wouldn't mind having later vampires as dinner guests, this creature is totally without redeeming features.
It's not just Max Schreck's amazing make up and utterly convincing performance that makes this film. The cinematography is groundbreaking and iconic. Who can forget those scenes of coffins on carts trundling along empty streets, of misshapen shadows creeping around at night (how can a mere shadow make such an impression?) and the iconic shot of Orlock rising from his coffin to terrorise the ship's crew. There are images and scenes here that are so powerful that they will be familiar to people who have never actually seen the film.
Aside from the technical mastery, the film itself is adsorbing and totally chilling, well worth a watch by anyone interested in classic cinema. The presentation on this disk is another triumph from the impressive Eureka masters of cinema series. The film is nicely cleaned up and presented with the best possible picture (allowing for the fact it's nearly 90 years old) in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Intertitles are in German, with the option for subtitles in a variety of languages including English. The soundtrack is in an impressive 5.1 surround sound, and the new orchestration matches the film perfectly. There is a second disk with a series of impressive documentaries regarding the making of the film, and the restoration process. There is also an 80 page booklet with an interesting series of essays.
All in all, a 10 out of 10 presentation of an iconic classic. Well worth the money. Recommended for all fans of classic horror films, German art house cinema, historical cinema, or just good films in general.
PS - for an interesting (fictionalised) account of the making of the film, I recommend you look out `Shadow of the Vampire', starring Willem Dafoe as Schreck and John Malkovitch as Murnau. The central premise is that Schreck really WAS a vampire, used by Murnau in an attempt for perfect realism.
on 7 June 2013
I read the rave reviews of this film and ordered it not realizing that it wasn't the Masters of Cinema release that everyone lauds to the heavens. Instead it's a shoddy, blurry wreck of a release from Elstree Hill with the film's proper aspect ratio of 4:3 completely skewed.
1. Do not buy any releases by Elstree Hill. They may be cheap, but there is obviously a good reason for this!
2. Amazon.com - please show reviews which pertain to the cover picture shown. Too many times reviews do not correllate with the product advertised.
on 17 November 2002
By not having any, FW Murnau's visionary film Nosferatu succinctly demonstrates how severely dialogue can dilute and trivialise a piece of cinema. Even disregarding the technical and artistic limitations prevailing at the time this film was made (if by 1929 cinema was no longer in its infancy, it was certainly still pre-adolescent), this film is one of the most astonishing pieces of cinema I have ever seen.
What is greatest about it - and pretty much everything about it is truly great - is the visual imagery and the beautiful way in which every scene is framed. I think I'd have missed a lot of this if I'd been focusing on a linear narrative, which is what an audio dialogue would have obliged me to do. At first the absence of dialogue seems an imposition on the modern viewer (it wasn't one on the director, for I am certain he felt no need for it) for it forces one to concentrate on looking. It seems an odd thing to say, but in these enlightened cinematic times, I really don't think we look properly any more. And what a treat it is when you do.
Not a frame is wasted. Each shot - even such innocuous scene-setters as morning light falling across Hutter's face and Ellen relaxing with a kitten by a window - anticipates another, and creates or reinforces motifs as the film carries on. Murnau subtitled Nosferatu "a symphony of horror", and (though it must sound frightfully pretentious to say so) the construction of this film really is symphonic.
While it forged countless cinematic devices which have since become cliches of the horror genre, when you view it as a symphony, it really isn't a horror at all. In this day and age it isn't frightening, but it certainly is haunting, and beautiful, but more than anything else, it's sexual. Despite having seen many different versions of the Dracula story (including Coppola's overtly sexual reading), I had never appreciated how deeply this story is an essay on sexual repression and potency. When you look at it this way - Nosferatu is really just a personification of Hutter's absent sexuality - the horror falls away. And this is unquestionably how it was intended: Watch Ellen's first approach to Hutter at the commencement of the film. We see the closed door, resembling a coffin lid. She opens it and creeps around the door, and approaches Hutter - from stage right - with her talons outstretched. When he accepts her embrace she nuzzles into his neck ... action for action, it is exactly how Orlock first approaches Hutter in his castle. Given how carefully every scene was framed (from time to time they resemble paintings, they're so well constructed), this could not possibly be a coincidence.
Aside from the bloodsucking (which apart from the final scene, is all implied), there are many truly haunting images: darkness seeping like blood across the Carpathian valley; darkening skies behind the rugged mountains; the black ship of death silhouetted against the sun; a procession of funerals down an otherwise abandoned Wisborg street; Ellen waiting amongst partially submerged crucifixes on a desolate ocean beach for her loved one to return (note to file: it is Orlock who is coming by sea; Hutter, by contrast, is coming round the mountains); and one quite extraordinary shot in which, as the black horse-drawn coach carries Hutter to Orlock, the frame is suddenly plunged into the negative - but eerily, the Coach and Horseman remain black...
The version I viewed had an extremely enlightening narrative from a satin-voiced Australian film critic, and some interesting featurettes about the history of the locations in which Nosferatu was filmed.
the only point on which I'd mark the film down - and then only really on "authenticity" grounds - is for its curiously (and ironically) dated sounding electronic soundtrack, which sounded like it was generated some time in the eighties. While it is a moody, discordant piece which fits the film well, the obvious anachronism does jar a little at first.
Werner Herzog made a fairly faithful "talkie" remake of Nosferatu in the late 1970s with the great Klaus Kinski as the count and Wagner's Gotterdamerung providing the soundtrack. This is well worth checking out, but in terms of building your film library, Murnau's original is a keeper.
Murnau's film is a fairly free adaptation of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', made without the consent of the Stoker estate and almost lost as a result of the legal action that followed. Fortunately a few prints survived, allowing 'Nosferatu' to be released in several VHS editions and finally on a 2-disc DVD.
Murnau creates a Gothic landscape that is as much a part of the film's horror as any of the events. Nature itself becomes increasingly threatening as Hutter (the renamed Harker character) approaches Castle Orlok (we have a 'Count Orlok' here instead of Dracula) - a key part of Murnau's vision, for his vampire is an extension of the natural world. Consumption is the natural order of existence: the vampire feeds upon humans just as they in turn consume the lower animals. The silence of the film, though a necessity at the time, is crucial to its success: the vampire has no voice, offers no explanations and no motives. He is a force of nature, needing no more justification than a spider preying upon flies.
Max Schreck's performance has become part of film legend, prompting suggestions that he was a real vampire (an idea explored in the 2000 film, 'Shadow of the Vampire'). Schreck's is possibly the most disturbing vampire ever to appear on screen. His fixed gaze and almost unnatural thinness make him seem ever-so-slightly inhuman. He is both a pathetic, lonely figure and a relentless killer, a blend that makes him doubly eerie.
It is a shame that Gustav von Wangenheim was not in the same class as Schreck: even by the standards of Expressionism, his performance seems ludicrous. Greta Schroeder is better as his dissatisfied bride. The triangle created between the three leads is the heart of the film: the vampire begins to represent the unfulfilled desires within the marriage, most explicitly in the famous final scene in which Orlok approaches Ellen on her bed while Hutter sleeps in a chair.
Though 'Nosferatu' is set in the mid-19th century, its inter-war German context is inescapable. The scene in which a seemingly unending line of coffins is carried in procession through the streets of Bremen is powerful now: to a German audience still reeling from defeat in the First World War and the economic depression following the Treaty of Versailles, it must have hit all too close to home. The film's bleak picture of a world in which destruction and consumption are the order of nature speaks volumes of the depression, in every sense of the word, that followed the Great War.
'Dracula' remains one of the most-filmed books of all time, but 'Nosferatu' has never been bettered. Bela Lugosi's aristocratic Count is more famous, but Murnau's vampire is more complex and more frightening. Films and TV series in recent years have tended to portray vampires as tortured souls or as underground subcultures, but watching this film reminded me that they were much more frightening before they started trying to explain themselves.
on 25 September 2007
One reviwer has compared this release to the masters of cinema release. As of today, September 26 2006, the Masters of Cinema version hasn't been released yet, so they haven't even seen it yet, and the comment about the "modern" score on the MoC version, is completely inaccurate. The MoC release uses the original score play with the film in the 20's. The Bfi version uses a newly recorded score.