As noted critic Pauline Kael observed, "... this first important film of the vampire genre has more spectral atmosphere, more ingenuity, and more imaginative ghoulish ghastliness than any of its successors." Some really go... more »od vampire movies have been made since Kael wrote those words, but German director F.W. Murnau's 1922 version remains a definitive adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Created when German silent films were at the forefront of visual technique and experimentation, Murnau's classic is remarkable for its creation of mood and setting, and for the unforgettably creepy performance of Max Schreck as Count Orlok, a.k.a. the blood-sucking predator Nosferatu. With his rodent-like features and long, bony-fingered hands, Schreck's vampire is an icon of screen horror, bringing pestilence and death to the town of Bremen in 1838. (These changes of story detail were made necessary when Murnau could not secure a copyright agreement with Stoker's estate.) Using negative film, double-exposures, and a variety of other in-camera special effects, Murnau created a vampire classic that still holds a powerful influence on the horror genre. (Werner Herzog's 1978 film Nosferatu the Vampyre is both a remake and a tribute, and Francis Coppola adopted many of Murnau's visual techniques for Bram Stoker's Dracula.) Seen today, Murnau's film is more of a fascinating curiosity, but its frightening images remain effectively eerie. --Jeff Shannon« less
"This is a classic of horror cinema and arguably the first real horror movie. Still carries a genuine fright over 80 years later. Now my real issue - Amazon lists a whole bunch of different versions of "Nosferatu". The only problem is, the reviews for the good editions end up on the pages of the cheap ones. There are only 2 good versions of Nosferatu to choose from - The version from Image (black/red cover), which is the only one with the great commentary by Lokke Heiss, and the newer Kino 2 disc edition. These are well-presentede editions. All the other versions are cheap, public domain, fly-by-night crap! Hopefully this review gets spread around like all the other ones. Amazon needs to have item-specific review pages. And if you haven't seen either of them yet, check out "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and Carl Dreyer's "Vampyr" from the same period. Thank you to everyone for clicking for this review. It's the most helpful one I've ever written. That was my sole aim."
Great DVD and Excellent audio Commentary!
Nate Goyer | Sydney, Australia | 01/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We are lucky to see "Nosferatu"; All copies were to be destroyed in 1923. "Nosferatu" was the product of plagerism, and an unlawful and (at the time) uncredited movie version of Bram Stoker's "Dracula". Stoker's widow sued the movie producers, they went out of business and the court ordered all copies of the film to be destroyed. Fortunately for us, copies were moused away and it is from these reels that we can see, what is considered the first horror film.Nosferatu's horrific reputation is unchanged today; The sight of the vampire (Max Schreck) is every bit as grotesque now as it's ever been. The story is familiar Dracula, however the genesis of German film expressionism is clearly engrained; Nosferatu was one of a handful of films that changed the industry and made people think in ways that were never explored before.The music score of this DVD is wonderful pipe-organ music composed from many early-19th century compositions. It's crafting completely compliments the story and adds not only tonal accuracy, but also a believable thread that brings us closer to the time of the film's creation.But the unexpected hit of this DVD is the audio commentary track from Lokke Heiss, and expert on German films. Heiss's commentary is absolutely compelling and points out many similarities that the average viewer wouldn't easily pick out. In fact, I would recommend watching the movie with the organ score, and immediately watching it with the commentary so "see" all the parts you may have initially missed.The DVD transfer is about as good as you can get, understanding that it all came from smuggled copies. The film is also 're-tinted', a film technique that provides different exposure colors to express changes is daytime or location.I highly recommend this DVD to all silent fans, and anyone who wants to see a peice of history, as well as get an excellent historical and documentary analysis."
Everlasting Life and Greta Schroeder
Jason A. Miller | New York, New York USA | 11/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought "Nosferatu" on Halloween night, to screen a double-feature with "Shadow of the Vampire". This turned out to be a terrific idea and caused me to wish, for the first time since childhood and my array of Star Wars costumes, that Halloween came eleven or twelve times a year."Nosferatu" may be 80 years old, but its influence is, amusingly enough, going to be eternal. The "Symphony of Horror" special edition DVD is absolutely a must-have, with three audio tracks that basically create three different versions of the film, and with three excellent mini-features.The basic audio track is an organ score derived from early-19th-century Romantic composers. Married to the film's flickering tinted images, this makes ideal Halloween (or, indeed, any post-midnight) viewing. The second audio score is more experimental, more modern, and much, much more fun. Whereas the organ track basically lies underneath the movie and provides a traditional (if static) experience, the "Silent Orchestra" compositions give the undead film a new life. This rock-jazz-classical track positively breathes in the way that Dracula never could.The final audio track is the commentary by German film expert Lokke Heiss. Don't be fooled by the man's voice and delivery, which is about as dynamic as balsa wood and interesting as an American cheese sandwich on white bread. He cites both scholarly film treatises and Stephen King as he discusses Murnau's influences, the film's light-dark composition, and the use of mirrors and windows within the movie. This is a terrific commentary track in that it increased my understanding of the move ten-fold. Pity they couldn't have had someone with an actual voice (like Christopher Lee) read Mr. Heiss's words.The featurettes range from cute to weird. Weirdest is the "Nosfera-Tour", ten minutes worth of home movies narrated once more by Heiss (oy vey) as he presents pictures of what the film's "Wisborg" looks like in the year 2000. The "Phantom Carriage Ride" is very eerie, spotlighting as it does one of the truly *bizarre* moments in the film. Finally, the art/photo gallery is splendid, one of the best galleries I've seen on a DVD. The real treasure comes at the beginnng -- the charcoal drawings that were producer Albin Grau's original renderings of Nosferatu.The DVD packaging -- cardboard case with plastic snap -- may be cheap, but it contains within one of filmdom's finest moments, and provides far more than just 81 minutes of enjoyment. Highly, highly recommended."
The definitive DVD version of the definitive vampire film
bjorn-toby-wilde | 05/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Filmed in 1922, the director F.W. Murnau set out to film an adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel Dracula. Although he couldn't get the rights to the novel, he pursued filming it anyway, changing the names of the characters and some of the plot points in the process. Stoker's widow sued the makers of Nosferatu for copyright infringement and won. All known prints of the film were destroyed as per the settlement. The German character actor Max Schreck played the vampire (now named Count Orlok) and was ready for international stardom. Since the film didn't make it to the theaters, fame eluded him in his lifetime.Luckily years later, a print surfaced and the reputation of Nosferatu was restored. But why does it get such acclaim? A lot of viewers today find it old and dated, without the shocks and scares of modern gore-fests you currently see in the theaters and video stores. That's a shame because Nosferatu influenced a lot of those movies.Modern viewers are more used to a "sexy" vampire. Since illicit sex is often the theme in vampire films, it makes more sense to be seduced by an attractive, exotic vampire. Count Orlok doesn't match that description in the least. He is repulsive-looking and resembles a rat.And yet the underlying sex theme is still there. As it's pointed out on a DVD commentary, Count Orlok is the doppelgänger of Hutter, the male lead. Both vie for the attentions of Ellen. Though she is married to Hutter, she doesn't return his affections as strongly as he gives her. But to save the town, she gives herself freely to the vampire.Of course, others see different themes in Nosferatu. Some view Count Orlok as a precursor to Hitler and the plague to Nazism, which would come a few years later. He even seems to give a Nazi salute as he dies.And still others point out the many viewpoints through windows and the use of forbidding shots of nature, which show an influence of 19th century German painters like Caspar David Friedrich. Not to mention the equal influences of early 20th century German Expressionism with its use of stark shadows and unlit corners.But you don't need to see any of that at first. You can enjoy it on its own merits as a very creepy horror film. One of my earliest memories of watching horror films was watching Nosferatu one October Saturday afternoon on TV. The scene where the vampire's shadow ascends the stairs on the way to his prey gave me nightmares for weeks and lingered in my memory until I saw it again twenty years later on video.How ironic that Nosferatu is called A Symphony of Horror, when it's a silent film. But the audio tracks offered on the DVD from Image Entertainment do embellish the film well. Hitting the audio button on your DVD while the film plays will take you to your choice of three audio tracks recorded especially for this DVD. The first is a modern, quirky score by The Silent Orchestra. The second is a more traditional organ score by Timothy Howard. The third track is an illuminating commentary of the film by Lokke Heiss.The goodies on the DVD don't stop there. The print itself has been remastered from high quality 35mm film and is restored to its original running time, as well as to its original color tints (although I think I preferred it in just black & white). A favorite feature of mine is the photo album of the locations used in Nosferatu as they appear in the film and how they look today."
KINO--The "ONLY" Version to BUY!!
Gregg Taylor | Branchville, NJ United States | 10/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just when I thought I'd FINALLY owned the definitive version of "Nosferatu" (the 84-minute version from IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT), along comes this "AUTHORIZED" version from KINO. The running time: 93 minutes! Nearly 85% of the scenes are longer (by a few feet of film), creating a much smoother, atmospheric and tension-building vision that Murnau had originally planned. Some scenes are COMPLETELY new to me (after having owned over 12 different versions of the film--from 8mm, to VHS, and now to DVD!!) This KINO print has come from some archival Italian film museum, and is even sharper than the IMAGE version...and even more appropriately color-tinted--(Count Orlok walking the deck of the ship is now BLUE for NIGHT!--for those who were bothered by the mistakenly amber-tinted sequence on the IMAGE disc). Admittedly, this version actually gave me chills...for the first time!
Now: as for the musical score...the DVD will automatically leave the FIRST option as your "score of choice". GOOD. It's very well-composed...creating the perfect setting for each and every sequence. WARNING: Do NOT select option #2...not unless you want to experience the film with a COMPLETELY inappropriate soundtrack which sounds like a TECHNO-PUNK-HEAVY METAL-INDUSTRIAL MIXED-UP Mess!!--I can't describe it any other way. That being said, you will definitely NOT be disappointed with this "NEW & IMPROVED" release...and don't be mislead by the date of 1929 (that was the year in which "Nosferatu" hit the American shores)."