Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Heinrich Witte, Aud Egede Nissen, Adolf Klein, Alfred Abel, Wilhelm Diegelmann
Director: F.W. Murnau
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Flicker Alley, in partnership with the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Foundation is proud to present, Phantom, which marked a major turning point in the influential career and the groundbreaking style of cinema poet F.W. Murnau.... more »
Another Outstanding Flicker Alley Release.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 09/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here comes another outstanding silent film release from the folks at Flicker Alley. First there was THE GARDEN OF EDEN a very obscure film from director Lewis Milestone with Corrine Griffith. Next came JUDEX a celebrated serial from Louis Feuillade which was unavailable for decades and now there is F.W. Murnau's PHANTOM which was made after NOSFERATU in 1922. Despite the title there is nothing supernatural about PHANTOM. It is based on a novel by Gerhard Hauptmann as adapted by Thea von Harbou and deals with the principal character's obssession with a woman whose visage "haunts" him to the exclusion of everything else. It is also the study of a family in crisis brought about by the changing times and morals of Germany after the First World War. Obssession and familial crisis are themes that von Harbou would return to again and again in her films for Fritz Lang. While it is not top drawer Murnau it is certainly more than worthwhile and paves the way for his masterpieces THE LAST LAUGH in 1924 and SUNRISE in 1927. The film has been lovingly restored with beautiful tints and a wonderful score from Robert Israel. It also comes with a booklet on the restoration. This is how all silent films should be treated allowing the viewer of today to get some idea of the viewing experience audiences had when silent films first played in theatres. With this and the other releases mentioned earlier Flicker Alley has shown themselves to be the Criterion Collection of silent films on DVD and I can't wait for their next offering whatever it may be."
Excellent DVD, exceptionally good film
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 09/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Flicker Alley Collection has done a superb job with this fabulous restored edition of German director F.W. Murnau's "Phantom", adding many special bonus features and also a booklet to delight all serious film historians and silent film enthusiasts. F.W. Murnau was one of Germany's foremost directors, competing with the likes of Fritz Lang and G.W. Pabst, and his most famous films are no doubt the award-winning "Sunrise" from 1927, and the ever-popular horror classic, "Nosferatu", based on Bram Stoker's `Dracula'. Just after completing "Nosferatu" in 1922, Murnau embarked on this small-budget project, "Phantom", which was based on a novel by the respected and popular German author, Gerhart Hauptmann. Both novel and film were very popular at the time, and for today's audience this release of "Phantom" adds further dimension and range to Murnau's work. After directing "Nosferatu", it is clear to see Murnau's film directing quickly becoming more sophisticated, the editing smoother and more precise, and the depth of drama and sensitivity increasing, leading him to great cinematic works such as "Faust", "The Last Laugh" and no doubt the pinnacle of his success, "Sunrise".
In this sensitive and compassionate portrayal of an honest man's slide into mental illness and crime, the "Phantom" refers to images or hallucinations of a woman with whom the poor man has become obsessed, and which consequently lead him to more desperate acts. The story shows how a few unfortunate circumstances and association with two questionable characters (one of them being his own wayward sister) combined with his pathological obsession with a woman he hardly knows, quickly cause his life to spiral downward out of control. The focus is on Lorenz's good and honest character, and the equally good-hearted woman who loves him and believes in him despite everything. All characters are wonderfully portrayed by some of the finest European actors of the time, such as Alfred Abel as Lorenz, and Lil Dagover as his devoted Maria, whose love and faith restores his life to happiness in the end. Visually, this film is quite marvellous, with beautiful scenes and photography, some interesting effects and traces of classic German Expressionism, all enhanced by good restoration and careful colour-tinting, and the entire 130 minutes of this smooth-flowing story is a delight to watch. A masterful classical orchestral score by silent film composer, Robert Israel, lifts this film to even greater heights. For a very satisfying and fulfilling silent cinematic experience the film itself is already enough, but for more background information and better appreciation of the work involved and circumstances surrounding the filming, the short documentaries in the bonus features are also of a high standard, as are the biographies of everyone involved in the film, including Thea von Harbou who wrote the screenplay for "Phantom" - as she did for many other famous and classic films. Definitely a top-class production for its time and still a pleasure to watch today!
Lesser Known Murnau Marred By Horrible Lead Performance
NYGUY | NYC | 11/16/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunately, I must agree with one of the other reviewers here who said that the lead actor became quite annoying. Truth be told, he was pretty annoying right from the beginning. I was very disappointed watching "Phantom." There are some beautiful visual moments to be sure, but I found that the entire enterprise was all but ruined by Alfred Abel's lead performance. The character should have been played by someone much younger and much prettier. This way, modern viewers might be more apt to forgive the sillier aspects of the plot. A wistful, handsome, dreamy young poet pining for an unobtainable woman is something understandable--if quaint. But when the wistful poet is played by a man 25 years too old who spends half of the film wearing an insipid hang-dog expression on his face, the audience simply cannot relate--and can only chuckle or, worse, want to punch the television. It's that bad. Abel is dreadful and ruins what might have been an interesting and lovingly filmed time-capsule. (It's hard to believe this was the same actor who was so memorable as the capitalist father in Lang's "Metropolis"!) If you're a huge Murnau fan like me, you may find yourself greatly disappointed. Stick to his classics like "Nosferatu," "Faust," "The Last Laugh" and "Sunrise". This "Phantom" is better left lost."
One of Murnau's best visually told films
Thorkell Agust Ottarsson | Norway | 01/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The transfer is really good and the music is beautiful. I was a bit disappointed that the inter titles are in English and tinted green but other than that, I have no complaints.
The film was good. It is extremely well told with some unbelievable scenes. It is really worth buying the DVD just for those scenes. I had how ever problems with the story (I just could not believe that an honest man like that would loose his head so easily). I also thought that Alfred Abel was to old for the part, even though he was good in the role.
This is not one of Murnau's best films but it is one of his best visually told films."