Nosferatu (1922) (DVD-2007)
Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski
silent film classic Nosferatu has had numerous incarnations on DVD. Some of them contained excellent print transfers, commentaries and special features. Others were clearly low-quality cheapie transfers of a film that was in the public domain. Now, Kino International has unveiled, on November 20th,
2007, a brand new set--what it refers
to as the ultimate DVD edition of Nosferatu.
More on that in a moment.
in 1922, masterfully directed by legendary German director F.W. Murnau, with striking photography by Fritz Arno Wagner, Nosferatu is the unauthorized first screen adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Set in 1838,
in a fictitious city on the German Baltic coast, it tells the tale of Count Orlok, played by Max Schreck, an entity half-man,
half creature whose nightmarish visage and taloned claws are worthy of Bela Lugosi’s famed descriptive phrase ‘children
of the night’.
Though Nosferatu is based on Dracula, the film
departs from the novel in number of areas. It is also remarkably sophisticated
and ahead of its time for a film made in 1922.
creator, Bram Stoker, had already passed on before Nosferatu premiered. But Stoker’s
widow, Florence, relentlessly pursued legal action over copyright infringement
since Murnau’s adaptation had not been authorized. She was successful with
her lawsuit and the court ordered that all negatives and prints of Nosferatu be
destroyed. This action curtailed the initial financial success the film may have
It also made
subsequent restoration of the film difficult as optimal film elements no longer existed.
But some prints of the film did indeed manage to survive And, truth be
told, such is the effectiveness of Nosferatu, along with many of the great silent films, that it retains its power even when shown in scratchy, worn and incomplete prints.
nothing can compare with a properly restored and complete silent era masterwork. Fortunately
for us, Kino’s new edition of Nosferatu is a restoration in every sense of
the word. The high-definition transfer is based on a 1922 nitrate element containing
the original color tints. The print used is the only copy that has been preserved
from the film’s period of origin. The original German intertitles and inserts
were utilized, and the set contains a more substantial English translation of the titles.
that this would be a stunning film transfer, and stunning it is--with a stabilized image of unprecedented clarity and detail. It can’t be praised highly enough. And,
the inclusion of Hans Erdmann’s original score, thought to be lost for many, many decades, newly recorded in 5.1 stereo,
some of which you’ve been hearing in the background, is the icing on the cake.
Extras in the set include documentary material and a short restoration feature as well as excerpts from other Murnau
films included on the previous Kino edition.
Nosferatu is the
quintessential silent vampire film. Its frightening and disturbing images have
been burned into the mass consciousness and the film remains involving, creepy and impressive still, to this day. If you don’t own a DVD of the film, and, even if you do, this new Kino Ultimate DVD edition
is a set that belongs in your film library.