Good transfers of great films
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The five titles in this collection are available separately, and you can find in-depth reviews for each. So I'll keep my review of the entire collection more general. Murnau, of course, was one of the giants of silent cinema, and four of these films are masterpieces. (Tartuffe is a bit weaker than the rest, IMO.) It's surprising how well these films hold up today as works of art AND as entertainments. Only the comedies of Keaton, Chaplin, and Lloyd are more compelling. Now for the discs:
Nosferatu: The best-looking North American transfer of Murnau's most famous film right now, with a longer running time and more accurate aspect ratio than most. The extras are skimpy; for example, the scene comparison is a good idea, but poorly executed since there isn't a clip from any other Dracula movie to compare it with! Best of all is the English-language trailer for Herzog's remake -- hidden as an Easter Egg. My only real complaint is that both music scores are terrible.
The Last Laugh: The earliest and poorest transfer of the bunch. My guess is that this was done before Kino's excellent restoration of Metropolis, when they started thinking more carefully about the DVD market. It's still acceptable, but the extras are even worse than Nosferatu's. At the very least, they could have provided a liner note essay!
Tartuffe: A fine transfer of the weakest film of Murnau's mature period. It will interest fans of his work, and the liner note essay offers a convincing analysis of the film-within-a-film framework. But the real gem is the 35-minute documentary on Murnau provided as an extra. Well worth checking out.
Faust: My own personal favorite, and the transfer is brilliant! There is a degree of decomposition and debris, but sections of the print appear almost pristine! Few extras (only a picture gallery), but who cares when the transfer of a silent film is this stunning?
Tabu: This is a Milestone/Image disc, not Kino. Surprisingly, it offers the most extras, including out-takes and a nice commentary track. The transfer is pretty clean, but unfortunately there is extensive cropping at the top of the frame throughout (something that Kino is much better at avoiding). The *original* music score definitely sounds its age, but isn't overly distracting.
Final words: Although I have reservations about the transfer of Last Laugh and Kino's lack of extras on its older discs, I highly recommend this collection. Value dictated my decision, and I bought the whole collection, which reduced the average cost per disc to a reasonable $21.50. The extras also come off better when taken as a whole."