Dir: F.W. Murnau. 1922. Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav Von Wangenheim. Germany. Silent/Horror.

Yes, yes, we’ve all heard of the celebrated Nosferatu – its cinematic importance, the legendary back-story of how it was almost lost to the ages due to legal injunctions, blah blah blah – and some people, having watched the film, know how bad many of the available DVD releases have been cropped and look/sound terrible, so it’s good news for jaded movie/horror nuts that Kino Video not too long ago released a specially re-done single-DVD “Restored Authorized Edition” (authorized by the F.W. Murnau Foundation, natch, NOT Bram Stoker’s widow) and a genuinely deluxe “Ultimate DVD Edition” two-disc badboy.

Ordinarily, I’m not a sucker for “re-master & re-package” jobs but I sing the praises of whomever did the deed of remastering the film elements for the DVD transfer; the movie looks gorgeous and crisp with new tinting, as per the original studio intent, and with the hi def-ready transfer many of the scenes look as if they’d been filmed just recently, not 85 years and counting. The super-treat on the two-disc edition for me, however, was the triple-whammy of the original German version (as original and complete as we’ll probably get, anyways) and an Anglo-phile version with improved English title-cards. That, and a terrific near-hour-long documentary, The Language of Shadows, laden with neat behind-the-scenes details of F.W. Murnau’s wicked life and of the failure of the producers to win in court and at the almighty box-office, really gives us some bang for our greenbacks.

All that bang, unfortunately, is only on the two-disc pricier version. If your wallet’s not fat and you just wanna watch the movie I still recommend the single-disc Kino edition because it shares the deluxe set’s sweet picture quality and TWO symphonic audio tracks – one, a more-classic organ-based “silent film-style” track is very fitting to the mood and really adds feelings of dread to the genuinely freakish and terrifying images; the other soundtrack lays a jazzy baroque/musique-concrete vibe on us with sound effects and a woman’s cooing and shrieking to add atmosphere to the proceedings (as if the movie needed more atmosphere…). Kino did me a seriously good service in bringing out a restoration worth my giving away my old, crappy chop-job “public domain” DVDs of Nosferatu so do yourself the favor and check this ‘un out, pronto.

Posted by:
Eddie Vegas
Jan 31, 2008 3:30pm
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