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Nosferatu - Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Kino International's 2-disc The Ultimate DVD Edition)

Kino International's 2-disc DVD release of the classic silent vampire film directed by F.W. Murnau.

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"Nosferatu; Does This Word Not Sound Like the Deathbird Calling Your Name at Midnight?"

  • Dec 17, 2008
Rating:
+5

-This review pertains to Kino International's 2-disc Ultimate DVD Edition of Nosferatu-


In 1922, German director
Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau released his film Nosferatu - Eine Symphonie des Grauens (in English this title translates to Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror), which not only brought the thirty-three year old director into prominence among Germany's greatest filmmakers, but also gave the world what is perhaps the greatest horror film ever made.
Loosely based upon
Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, the screenplay was written by Henrik Galeen. However, either Murnau and the other filmmakers didn't understand the complexities of copyright law or they simply didn't bother to get legal permission to adapt Stoker's novel into a motion picture. In vain they tried to avoid having legal action taken against them by changing the names of the characters from the novel.
Early promotional poster
The film's shoot, which commenced early in July of 1921, took Murnau, his cast and crew across Germany. Nosferatu was released through independent production studio,
Prana-Film, which was a German studio founded by Albin Grau, a noted producer, artist, and occultist. It was Albin Grau who first suggested Bram Stoker's gothic horror novel as a potential film project for the foundling studio. Other than Murnau, it was Grau who was responsible for the eerie, expressionistic atmosphere of Nosferatu, as he was not only the film's producer, but also the costume designer, set designer, and artistic director.
The film would finally be released on March 4 of 1922 and despite an extensive marketing campaign and great critical acclaim, the film was only a modest commercial success. Bram Stoker's widow, Florence Stoker, felt that the film too closely resembled her late husband's book, so as a result she sued Murnau and the film's small studio, Prana-Film. She had the courts order the film to be pulled from theatres and worse, she demanded that all prints of the film were to be destroyed. Thankfully some copies survived destruction or else we should not be able to view Murnau's penultimate masterpiece today.
Early conceptual artwork
Nosferatu featured a talented cast, which was headed by intense character actor Max Schreck, whose name literally translates to "maximum terror". Schreck played the vampire Count Orlok, not as a sex symbol or a handsome yet violent monster, but rather as a vile rat-like being that felt no human emotions; only a parasitic bloodlust. The rest of the cast included Gustav Von Wangenheim as Hutter, Alexander Granach as Knock, Greta Schroeder as Ellen, and John Gottowt as Professor Bulwer.

 


The story begins in 1838, when young Hutter is sent to Transylvania by the sinister estate broker Knock, where he is to deliver documents to Count Orlok. Once there he encounters many strange things and the mysterious Count reveals himself to be a vampire. The Count finds a picture of Hutter's young innoce
nt wife, Ellen and then journeys to Wisborg, Germany to find her. Hutter is left behind in the vampire's eerie castle until one night when he manages to escape. By the time Hutter returns to his own home in Wisborg, the Count has spread a plague across the countryside. Too weak to battle this nefarious monstrosity, Hutter unknowingly leaves Ellen vulnerable to Orlok's attack. But Ellen, having read Hutter's journal and a book about Nosferatu, prepares to destroy the Count the only way she can. She plans to sacrifice herself to the undead Count and in so doing distract him until the sun rises since the first rays of the morning sun are lethal to the Nosferatu. In the final climactic scene Count Orlok creeps into their home and feeds on the virginal heroine's blood and then he meets his demise. Ellen's self-sacrifice and her defeat of Count Orlok lifts the accursed plague from Wisborg forever.

 


As a fan of both German expressionist films from the silent age and of the
Dracula theme, this film has become my all-time favorite film. When I heard that Kino International was going to re-release the film in a 2-disc Ultimate DVD Edition, I was thrilled. Having now seen the restoration, I must say that I am in awe. The quality of the transfer is greater than that found in any other available version. In fact I almost felt as if I were one of those lucky people who viewed this masterpiece during its original release.
Albin Grau's conceptual artwork and storyboards for the film.
There have been many, many releases of Nosferatu on DVD, and most of these are put out by small distribution companies. These DVD versions are typically of a very poor quality and as such are available at low prices. However there have been two prestigious distribution companies, Image Entertainment and Kino International (a.k.a. Kino On Video), which have created high quality transfers of the film. For the latest and most impressive release, Kino International has united with Transit Film and the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung (translates to Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation). Utilizing the highest quality prints of the film available, they have to the best of their ability duplicated the look and sound of the film as it was shown in theatres in 1922. And for the first time ever, the film features the original score as composed by Hans Erdmann.

This 2-disc
Ultimate DVD Edition includes the gloriously restored film in two versions; one with newly translated English intertitles and the other in the original German. This excellent DVD also includes "The Language of Shadows: Murnau - The Early Years and Nosferatu" documentary, which explores Murnau's early career and his connection with the occult, archival excerpts of eight other Murnau films, "Nosferatu: An Historic Film Meets Digital Restoration" featurette, an image gallery, and a scene comparison that examines the similarities and differences between Stoker's novel, Henrik Galeen's screenplay, and the final film. Overall this set is spectacular, but where some may be disappointed is with the content on disc two, which only contains the film with the original German intertitles. Kino could have at least included a commentary track with a film historian or an alternate score such as they di with their prior DVD release. But unfortunately this was not to be the case. Now, all said the film restoration is beyond fantastic and the special features on disc one are great which earns the Ultimate DVD Edition my highest recommendation, though I wish that disc two had been more elaborate in its content. Any minor complaints aside, this DVD makes a perfect gift for cineastes and horror fans alike. This DVD is a wonderful tribute to Murnau's legacy as a filmmaker and a triumph in the art of film restoration. 
Original theatrical poster image
Here is a link to Kino's official website, where you can purchase the 2-disc
 Ultimate DVD Edition of Nosferatu and other classic silent films:
Nosferatu (2-disc Ultimate DVD Edition)

Nosferatu (Kino International's 2-disc The Ultimate DVD Edition)
Nosferatu Ultimate DVD Edition Cover Opening Title Card (German Version) Count Orlok 2-disc DVD Ultimate Edition special features details of DVD cover accompanying booklet Opening Title Card (English) Shadow of the Vampire Nosferatu (The Ultimate DVD Edition)

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August 17, 2010
Great review!!! I think I saw an inferior version years ago, not even sure I saw the whole movie then. I will definitely watch this Kino version. German expressionism after the Great War was very dark and foreboding, should be no surprise based on their suffering after the war. I will have to do some academic research on this in more detail. From reading the review I am wondering if "Ellen's self-sacrifice and her defeat of Count Orlok lifts the accursed plague from Wisborg forever." Served as a metaphor for Germany's experience of suffering after the war?
August 18, 2010
Yes and no. The film is typically seen as being more of a metaphor for the war itself and for the rise of fascism in Europe at the time. The film is also steeped in Jungian symbolism, which I intend to go into detail about on one of my next reviews of the film. There are numerous DVDs available, of which I own five, but the one pictured above is the best by far.
August 18, 2010
I'll have to do more research because if the release date is March of 1922 which means it was written and shot before that date I would be very surprised it could be a metaphor for the rise of fascism. In Germany Communism was well underway; however, fascism and Nazism were in a very infantile stage before March 1922. Even in Italy "Il Duce" doesn't take over until Oct. 1922. Like I said I will be doing some research and I will put it up when I am done. I look forward to seeing the film never the less.
August 19, 2010
The Nazis formed officially as a political party in 1920, and prior to that there were various earlier fascist elements in place (by this I refer in part to Wilhelm II's form of brash militance and the later years of the German monarchy, but also to the rise of very strong right-wing groups which began to develop at the time to counter the Socialist & Communist upheavals in other European nations). Of course, these elements were nothing compared to what would come later in 1933 when the Nazis took power over all of Germany, but of course by this time Murnau had been dead for two years. What's interesting is that "Nosferatu" came out at such a pivotal time that it has been interpreted in a number of ways since.

Firstly, because of statements made by Murnau and Albin Grau and because of Murnau's experiences in WWI, the film has been seen as a metaphor for the destructiveness of war. In this case, Hutter goes off to visit Orlok in the hopes of becoming rich and having an adventure. Hutter is naive, and unaware of the consequences his actions will have for himself, for Ellen, and for his community at large. Hutter could be said to represent the naivete and greed of the youth who grew up amongst the Bourgeoisie during the Industrial Revolution, but he also can be seen as representing the carelessness of many of the young soldiers who went off to war in WWI because of Nationalist pride and the desire for adventure. Orlok then represents stark reality and the rise of violence which comes down from the wilderness and then spreads a plague of death among the people of Wisborg. As such, one could read that Murnau was concerned about the way in which violence was becoming more common, the way that greed was becoming almost a virtue in parts of Europe at the time, and even his feelings about the folly of youth.

Secondly, the film has been seen by many as a commentary on Western greed and materialism, in which case Hutter represents the spoiled European capitalist eager to make a quick buck regardless of the consequences, and Orlok represents a more primal force, almost like nature's wrath, which rises up and preys upon humanity as punishment for their greed. In this view, it is Ellen's altruism, unconditional love, and sacrifice which ultimately liberates Wisborg from the plague (ie, capitalism).

Thirdly, many people have seen the film as a metaphor for the Nazis themselves. This is a fairly revisionist interpretation, as you pointed out, since the Nazis weren't the great threat that they would later become. Still, there are those who see Orlok as being a symbol for the autonomy, rigidity, and violence of fascism. His army of rats become his soldiers, and the multitude of people he preys upon likewise become the various countries which he attacks. I've never seen much credence in this, since there's no real reason to believe that the people involved in the film would have been so prophetic or that they would have gone to such lengths to make an anti-Nazi film without addressing the issue directly. As far as I'm concerned, this interpretation is contradictory as well as anachronistic.
August 19, 2010
Thank you so much for the in-depth explanation of the various theories behind the movie. Makes me want to view it that much more!!! It seems you have really done some reading on the work. Can you give me any recommendations on books about the movie or Murnau in general? By the way, you should add this info to your review, I think others like myself would find it helpful.
August 19, 2010
Unfortunately, there aren't really any books on either this film or Murnau in particular that are readily available in the U.S.. The one biography that I've seen of Murnau, has yet to even be translated from German to English, which is quite sad. However, included on some of the more recent Kino DVD releases of Murnau's films, there are documentaries about him and filmmaking. On the two Image DVD releases are some informative audio  commentaries, although the one on "Nosferatu" by Lokke Heiss is more of an essay in which he shares his rather Fruedian interpretation of the film. There are also a number of books on the Silent Era, as well as books on classic horror films, that go briefly into detail about Murnau's filmmaking techniques and his wide range of inspiration and influence.
As for your suggestion, I've done two reviews of "Nosferatu" thus far, and I intend to do two more. The ones that I have done were for the two Kino DVD releases and I plan the next one will cover Image's DVD, then the final one will be a very lengthy review which will cover the film's conceptualization,  entire production history, and cinematic legacy. Oh yes, I have my work cut out for me. If you'd like, I would gladly let you know when the other reviews are ready. In the meantime, I also have this review here of Kino's first DVD release, which is a bit obsolete at this point.
August 19, 2010
Thank you, by the way, you mention Jungian symbolism in the film. I am ignorant of Jung's writing, I have studied Freud quite a bit though. I can't remember if you said you were going to review that aspect of the film or not? I think you should, it would give more texture to the work. Sorry, it is the professor in me to give you an additional assignment!!!
August 19, 2010
LOL! I assure you I don't mind. It's just a matter of finding the time to gather my thoughts, sit down, and put my perceptions on paper. Freud was interesting, but typically all psychological conditions stemmed from subconscious psycho-sexual ones and that never seemed accurate to me at all. I prefer Jung, as his approach acknowledged both the individual's own experiences, but also collective and communal experiences and memories.
August 19, 2010
Jung sounds interesting, tell me which is the one good book on Jung's work I should read? By the way, as Freud probably places more emphasis on the sub concious, he does acknowledge collective and communal experiences and history as espoused in his book "Civilization and its Discontents". You can see my review. http://www.lunch.com/Reviews/book/Civilizati...ion-1543993.html?cid=74
August 19, 2010
"Psychology of the Unconscious" and "The Red Book" would be good places to start if you really wanted to delve into Jung's views. If you're looking for something more introductory, then "The Essential Carl Jung" would be apt.
August 19, 2010
Thank you.
 
June 01, 2010
Yes the classic right here, another excellent review young Count.
June 01, 2010
Yeah, I'm a sucker for this one (terrible pun intended). Not only is it the most artistic vampire film, not only is it the first real adaptation of Dracula, not only is it Murnau's most iconic film, but it's also my all-time favorite. It's just classic from top to bottom, you know? The director, the cast, the camera work, the music (if you have the Ultimate Edition anyway), and the atmosphere in general all combined to create one of, if not the most, memorable vampire film ever. I also love the fact that the plague spread by the vampire was an allegory for the mindless destruction of WWI.
June 02, 2010
Oh yeah man could not agree more.
 
March 11, 2010
Great classic!
March 11, 2010
I love it to pieces. This particular DVD edition is fantastic too.
 
February 03, 2010
Yeah, nice additions with the photos and stuff. I wish I could do that!!!! I think you just can't decide on which nifty title to use so you keep writing new reviews so you can use them all. =)
February 03, 2010
Nah. I just keep learning more about the film and want to go into more and more detail, plus with the four DVD versions I own I have a lot of ground to cover as far as features and restoration quality go. That's the problem with public domain films... too many different versions to choose from. I still can't decide which edition of "Night of the Living Dead" to go for. Any thoughts?
February 03, 2010
I can tell you which one to stay away from! The filmed extra scene and really screwed it up. Romero had nothing to do with it. It was his former partners Russo and Streiner. I no longer have that one so I can't tell you exactly which one it is but be very careful when buying and look for their names on it. NOW THE VERSION I DO RECOMMEND is the Millenium Edition. It says it's the original classic on the box so you know it's the right one and George Romero wrote the liner notes on the back. It has 2 commentary tracks. The print is pristine which is the only bad thing about it. I prefer the old trashy print that it had in it's original releases--it made the film seem more immediate. Now it just seems like a movie.
February 03, 2010
Yeah, I think it was the 30th Anniversary that I've heard is terrible. Apparently they re-shot footage with one of the actors 30 years later and re-inserted it into the film and butchered it. As for the pristine print on the Millennium Edition, that normally wouldn't be so bad, but this film works well when it looks crappy. Somehow, it adds to the realism and the low-budget charm. You might want to get the super cheap GoodTimes DVD version if you can find it. The older one isn't bad, but it's out of print. It had no special features or remastering or anything, so it's pretty much what you'd get at a drive-in or a theater that plays older films. They have a newer version on Amazon for $4.98, but I couldn't tell you how they compare.
February 03, 2010
I am going to buy an old copy. I can probably find one in a store somewhere and save on the postage. They put totally new scenes in about Halloween and trick or treating. It was horrible.
February 03, 2010
Euch.
February 03, 2010
I know. What's that all about? The movie is about isolation. I think maybe it was supposed to explain what had happened to the people who lived in the farmhouse,
February 03, 2010
Maybe I'll send you my DVD version. It's the GoodTimes one and I'm thinking about finding one with commentary. I love audio commentary tracks.
February 03, 2010
Well check out the Millenium Edition then. Like I said, 2 commentary tracks.
February 03, 2010
And that one is still available?
February 04, 2010
I'm sure it must be. Somewhere.
 
October 14, 2009
love it!! love old horror movies...need to get this one in time for Halloween!
October 14, 2009
Trust me, it's worth it. Of all the German silent films and of all classic horror films... this is the greatest! Just be sure to get one of the high quality versions because there are a lot of cheap sets out that have terrible picture quality. I highly recommend either this elaborate 2-disc Ultimate DVD Edition set from Kino or the Special Edition from Image Entertainment.
 
October 09, 2009
Great great movie! well worth of any praise given to it. I actually loved this movie so much that I even liked SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE because it gave me a tiny dose of nostalgia. excellent review, Count.
October 09, 2009
Thanks. How many times do you think I can review this movie without it getting tiresome?
October 10, 2009
for my money...NEVER.
October 10, 2009
Sweet, because I'm planning on doing it again for reviews #185 and #200! LOL!
October 10, 2009
Good. I say go for it. Come to think of it, I never give attention to the number of reviews I do anymore...I missed #'s 100, 200 and 250 LOL!
October 10, 2009
See, I'm a little OCD, okay really OCD... and I actually use the numbers as clues to what I'm reviewing on occasion. My last review for "Nosferatu" was review #122, because the film came out in 1922... and I plan on reviewing Murnau for review #188 because he was born in 1888. Like I said, OCD.
October 10, 2009
actually that is a nice style in adding significance to the film. If you do this again for 200, what would signify?
October 10, 2009
actually that is a nice style in adding significance to the film. If you do this again for 200, what would signify?
October 10, 2009
Well, the one I plan on doing for #185 will focus on the other DVD I own and the quality of that print, the special features, the two scores, etc. and of course some of the background info on the film's creation. The one for #200 would be a blow-out focusing soley on the artistic and philosophical value of the film and juxtaposing with Murnau's personal life and the rise of fascism in Germany.
October 10, 2009
That'll be awesome! Make sure you give a holler when you drop those reviews...
October 10, 2009
Of course, it's my favorite film. I'd have to. But it will be quite a while since I'm still on #133 at the moment and it's been time-consuming (actually, all of them up until #150 will be).
October 10, 2009
You know, now that I think about it, I don't think I have an all-time favorite film that I'm really attached to. You've reviewed INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE didn't you? I'd like to read your take on it. (I may add it to my Shock-tober list)
October 10, 2009
No, I haven't reviewed that an I may not. I'm not a big Anne Rice fan, her stuff's too cheesy and melodramatic for me, and I didn't think the film was all that great either. I've thought about reviewing the book of "'Salem's Lot" though. I still haven't read that all the way through and thought maybe it might be a good motivator if i set myself up to review it. However, since I've not yet reviewed the king of vampire novels, it would be a bit of a cheat, wouldn't it?
October 10, 2009
ohhh...SALEM'S LOT was awesome! review it! I am not a big Anne Rice fan myself but I'll tolerate her over Meyer. LOL cheating is only in the eyes of the beholder...or was that beauty? LOL
October 10, 2009
Beauty is cheating. Anything pretty is a lie masking ugliness. ; ) You can tell I'm honest because I've never been pretty! LOL!
 
1
More Nosferatu - Eine Symphonie des... reviews
Quick Tip by . August 17, 2010
I saw an inferior version years ago. I will definitely watch this Kino version. German expressionism after the Great War was very dark and foreboding, should be no surprise based on their suffering after the war. I will have to do some academic research on this in more detail. From reading the review I am wondering if "Ellen's self-sacrifice and her defeat of Count Orlok lifts the accursed plague from Wisborg forever." Served as a metaphor for Germany's experience of suffering after the war, and …
Quick Tip by . March 28, 2010
posted in Cinema of Silence
The single most important film of the German silent renaissance. F.W. Murnau's eerie, haunting, iconic film is unforgettable. A true classic! This extraordinary Kino Ultimate DVD Edition finally gives the greatest vampire film its due with a glorious restoration including all new color tinting, intertitles, and the original 1922 score.      ):-=
Quick Tip by . August 25, 2009
"Nosferatu" is easily the most iconic and poetic vision of the vampire ever caught on film and remains the signature classic of Murnau's career. A gripping, gorgeous film that has been superbly restored in this excellent Kino 2-disc DVD Edition...
review by . November 18, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Creepy, truly creepy. Max Schreck as Count Orlok is beautifully terrifying. The portrayal is oustanding and truly spooky. This silent film has achieved without any words what most films today can't with all their budget and special effects. The film is excellently made and is one of the best horror films I have seen. Truly haunting.
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Here's Kino's product info:

SEE The Unbelievable HD transfer

NOSFERATU
THE ULTIMATE DVD EDITION

A cornerstone of the horror film, F.W. Murnau's NOSFERATU is triumphantly
reborn in this breathtaking new restoration by the F.W. Murnau Foundation.
Backed by an orchestral performance of Hans Erdmann's 1922 score (recorded
in 5.1 stereo surround), this Kino International edition is derived from a
new high-definition transfer of Murnau's masterpiece, with unprecedented
visual clarity and historical faithfulness to the original release version.
This double-disc collection presents the film with the original German
intertitles as well as with newly-translated Englishintertitles. Accompanying the film is a
52-minute documentary by Luciano Berriatúa which provides a detailed account
of the production and explores the filmmakers' involvement in the occult.

NOSFERATU - Eine Symphonie des Grauens
NOSFERATU, A Symphony of Horror
NOSFERATU: A Symphony of Horror
Germany 1922 94 Min. Color Tinted 1.33:1
Directed by F.W. Murnau Photographed by Fritz Arno Wagner
Screenplay: Henrik Galeen Art Direction: Albin Grau
With Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Alexander Granach, Greta Schroeder
Restored by Luciano Berriatúa
Reconstruction of Hans Erdmann's original 1922 score by Berndt Heller
Performed by the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Berndt Heller
Sound Recording: Saarländischer Rundfunk, Saarbrücken

DVD Special ...

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Details

Genre: Classics, Drama, Foreign, Horror
Release Date: March 4, 1922
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Henrik Galeen
DVD Release Date: November 20, 2007
Runtime: 94 minutes
Studio: Kino, Kino International, Kino On Video, Prana-Film, Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung
First to Review

"Truly terrifying"
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