on 20 September 2015
Firstly, about the definitive (older) 2007 DVD version and the film in general. I original wrote this after watching this older release, upscaled through my BluRay player, and enjoyed it more than I ever have.
This film is wonderful! A true masterpiece of cinematic history, released 24 years after Stoker's novel, and manages to tell a bare-bones version of Dracula, in a visually spooky, and quite hunting, and more accurately than a lot of other adaptations IMO. The whole look of Count Orlok is rather vile and will sear into your brain, the shadows and imagery are perfect. This is not a blood and guts horror, of course, its almost 100 years old, but, relies on its creepy visuals to great effect. An awesome restoration, that we are so lucky to have, some shots are a tad degraded but most are very clear, topped off by a 2.0 and 5.1 new performance from the original sound score sheet music. My favourite Dracula movie. There is something magical about the look of silent film, even if the guy who plays Hutter is a compete over-acting wooden top :/.
A small gripe I have is, that there are a few frames missing during some scenes, making moving characters suddenly disappear or 'jump' along a little. It is very occasional, but I have other editions of this film, (namely Eureka's previous sepia version and the BFI 1997 restoration), where this doesn't happen in the same, or at least some of the same scenes, and for the sake of a mere missing frame or two would have fixed those occasional 'jumpy' scenes and made them fluid, even if the quality was, arguably, maybe, not quite as good as the source material used during this restoration, I really don't think in a split second, that, a few lower quality frames, will notice over the benefits of fluid motion. But hey, its nitpicking really.
About the comparisons between 2007 and 2013 versions:
Having heard so many positive reviews of the new 2013 remaster I caved and bought the steelbook BluRay/DVD set, after all it is a favourite film of mine. So how do they compare. The main reason why the 2007 version looks so good is that the picture is the cleanest Nosferatu has ever looked. It is not damage free, but in comparison to all previous versions, this is almost pristine, clear enough and very watchable. There is even a bonus feature on the disc showing how they painstakingly digitally removed the vast amount of scratches and speckles. If you watch is DVD version upscaled, on your BluRay player it is even better.
I had already expected that there would be some kind of a traded off by remastering the film up to 1080p HD, because as well as giving it that extra bit of clarity it will also show up some more damage. However, I was really disappointed to see just how much damage the 2013 version showed. For the most part the film now looks as badly damaged as I remember it used too, before 2007. All sorts of damage and visual noise are now back almost thought this film. The picture is scratchy, grainy and speckly most of the time with very few near-pristine looking scenes. True it is sharper and detail more defined, most of the time, but not massively IMO, or in some cases, too harsh, leaves on trees suffer noticeably from this on my TV. This for me, has just undone the great work the same restoration team did in 2007. The same soundtrack, now however, sounds even more depthy than the 2007 version, even though the 2007 version sounds excellent as it is without the comparison. The 2013 DVD version is also taken from this newer HD restoration, so also has all the visual noise too. I notice they have removed the bonus feature about digitally restoring the damage. I also noticed that the inter titles inconsistently change colour from white, to powder blue, to a mid blue, which I have not noticed on the 2007 version, the intertitles were always consistently powder blue from what I remember. The missing frame jumps are still there. The only real difference is this newer version opens with an 2 minuet 'Overture' before the 'Nosferatu' intertitle opens. Its the same music as played on the 2007 version as the blurb about the restoration is shown. Now the same blurb is shown in silence before the Overture, The booklet that came with the 2007 version is also included with the 2013 version, albeit with a different cover picture, but has lost about 30 pages, cut down from 80 to 50!
Overall, I'm going to buck the trend and say for the sake of a bit more clarity, the 2013 edition, has significantly degraded the picture quality. The 2007 version might be visually softer but its almost damage and scratch free in comparison! So, if you have a BluRay player, for the up-scaling, I would recommend getting the 2007 DVD version, or get the 2007 version for a few quid, second hand and buy the newer version on DVD too, (there is not much point getting the BluRay disc to be honest, it looks near identical if you can upscale the 2013 DVD, this film is nearing a century in age!), and have them both to compare. The choice is yours! A more detailed picture with a lot of visual noise and damage, or a less harsh, softer picture with very little visual noise and damage. I'm going to cherish my 2007 edition. Sure there is going to be movie enthusiasts that are going love the HD restoration for the damage,' because it makes the film', these are going to be the same movie enthusiasts that complain when a restoration of an old film has the soundtrack mixed from mono into stereo, because it is not accurate, is HD accurate of a film of this age, er, nope. I have nothing against squeezing out the quality, 'Cabinet of Dr Cligari' 2014 restoration is stunning, but, that owes a lot to the original camera negative still existing. Nosferatu, like most, films of that age, I should imagine, is less fortunate in that respect.