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Classics of the Early Cinema Collection: Influential Films of the Silent Era
Classics of the Early Cinema Collection Influential Films of the Silent Era
Actors: Lon Chaney, Max Schreck, Werner Krauss, Paul Wegener
Directors: Paul Wegener, F.W. Murnau, Rupert Julian, Robert Wiene
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
NR     2003     5hr 46min


Movie Details

Actors: Lon Chaney, Max Schreck, Werner Krauss, Paul Wegener
Directors: Paul Wegener, F.W. Murnau, Rupert Julian, Robert Wiene
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: Alpha Video
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 06/10/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 5hr 46min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaDVD Credits: 4
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

Movie Reviews

Rating for the set, not the wonderful films
Stephanie Crawford | Las Vegas, NV | 04/16/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This set contains the original versions of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919), "The Golem" (1920), "Nosferatu" (1922) and "The Phantom of the Opera" (1924, starring Lon Chaney.) I'm actually surprised by the price here, I was able to pick this up at Costco for under $10. The set is actually nice package-wise, it opens up like a book with 2 discs on each side, in a sturdy wooden shell.

If you're familiar with Alpha or any other cheapie companies that work with public domain titles, you'll know what you're getting. No restoration work, and no attempt at any extras- heck even the menus are plain and ugly! (You get the choices of either "play" or "index", wow!) If you can find this cheap, it's worthwhile just to get a chance to check out these astounding, influential early movies and see if you want to invest in the nicer versions. I'm glad I have them in my collection, but they are nowhere near complete. Since the films are so old you know the image will have a lot of problems, but they are all very watchable."
The True Horror Lies Within
Count Orlok '22 | The land of the denigrated reviewers | 10/28/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)

"As a distinct genre, horror can be dated back to the gothic literature of the seventeenth century. Since the invention of the motion picture film, there have been many attempts to translate the genre from its literary sources to the silver screen. In this 4-disc collection are four classic horror films that have influenced countless filmmakers and held the attention of obsessive film experts.
Three of the four films were made in Germany, while the fourth is American. All are essentials.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - 1919
Visually unique in every sense, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is arguably the greatest cinematic example of German expressionism. Directed by Robert Wiene, the film is widely regarded as being the first true horror film.
The film tells the tale of a wandering mountebank named Caligari, who uses his powers of hypnosis to control a somnambulist named Cesare. Cesare is made to give prophesies of death to villagers and then he murders them, making the prophesies come true.
Perhaps the first psychological suspense film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari unfolds into a landscape of nightmarish imagery and therein the characters' own inner turmoil is played out to maximum effect.
Starring Conrad Veidt.

The Golem - 1920
Paul Wegener's epic tale of a rabbi who creates a monster out of clay is an often-overlooked masterpiece of silent cinema. The story, which was based on an old Hebrew legend, is thought to have been an inspiration to Mary Shelley when she created her classic horror novel Frankenstein.
A wise rabbi sculpts a giant man out of clay and then conjures a dark spirit to inhabit it so that he may defend his people from the persecution and exile they face. Naturally, the clay Golem develops a mind and will of its own, leading to catastrophe.
The Golem cleverly combines history, legend, and social commentary to create a unique vision of persecution, retribution, and finally redemption.
Starring Paul Wegener.

Nosferatu - 1922
Arguably the greatest horror film, and undoubtedly the greatest vampire film ever made, F.W. Murnau's atmospheric take on Bram Stoker's Dracula story is a classic of the silent era. Max Schreck, whose name translates to "maximum terror", plays the title vampire as a repulsive rat-like predator.
The story follows Jonathon Harker and Nina, his wife, as they and all of the denizens of their city become victims of Count Dracula, who spreads the plague wherever he goes. Can Nina's innocence and bravery end Dracula's plague and save the city?
When Nosferatu was released, Stoker's wife sued because the filmmakers failed to get legal permission to adapt the novel into a film, resulting in the changing of the characters' names. However this version uses Stoker's original characters' names.
Starring Max Schreck.

The Phantom of the Opera - 1925
Universal Studios' beloved production of the Gaston Leroux story is probably best remembered for the iconic performance of Lon Chaney as the Phantom. Directed by Rupert Julian and featuring impressive production design, this film is easily the most famous and revered of all the films included in this set.
A young a beautiful opera singer is abducted by The phantom who lives beneath the Paris Opera House. As the intrigue grows, a young handsome suitor must foil The Phantom's plot.
Lon Chaney's makeup in this film has become synonymous with the golden age of silent horror films.
Starring Lon Chaney.

Although all of the films in this collection are classics of the silent era, none of them are shown the respect that they deserve in this shoddy set. While it's nice to have these four films available in a cheap collection, it's impossible to overlook the poor quality of this cheap offering from Alpha Video. It's been over eighty years since these films were originally released and since their copyrights have expired, they've become part of the public domain, which means that small independent DVD companies can easily acquire and produce affordably priced versions for home viewing. However, most companies don't bother to restore these films at all or include any bonus materials.
This is certainly the case with this collection. All four films are presented in such a manner that they are barely watchable. The image is grainy and scratched, the contrast is so extreme that much of the picture is obscured, and the films aren't even shown at their correct projection speed, which causes the acting to seem disjointed and over the top.
The Limited Edition Box that the four discs are packaged in is flimsy and the artwork is a terrible representation of the films. The box even mistakenly says that the phantom of the Opera was released in 1924, which it was in fact released in 1925. Apparently they couldn't even be bothered to read the copyright date during the beginning of the film's credits.
All of these films are available from other companies, which treat them with the reverence that they've earned over the years. Two of these companies, Image Entertainment and Kino International (formerly Kino On Video), have produced some fantastic DVDs of these and they painstakingly restore them.
So you be the judge as to which is better; paying less for lesser quality DVDs or paying more and receiving the highest quality versions available.

Here are some links to much higher quality DVDs of the films contained within this set:
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Special Collector's Edition)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Kino On Video's Restored Authorized Edition)
The Golem (Kino On Video's Restored Authorized Edition)
Nosferatu (Image Entertainment's Special Edition)
Nosferatu (Kino International's Ultimate DVD Edition)
The Phantom of the Opera (Image Entertainment's Ultimate Edition)"
4 classics | State of Unrest | 01/08/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I've yet to watch all four in this set, but I have seen all four of these movies, and they are all very good. They stand the test of time well.

I have watched "Nosferatu" in this set, and I think the set should have noted that the title cards have been changed to reflect the character names and storyline of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" more closely. As I recall from previous viewings, the title character in the original version was called "Count Orlock (or something like that), and in this version he is called "Count Dracula". Other characters and situations have similarly been renamed."