Nosferatu (Masters of Cinema) (Definitive Fully Restored Version with Original 1922 Score) DVD
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Directed by F.W. Murnau
Produced in 1922
Main Language - Silent
Alexander Granach, Greta Schröder, Gustav von Wangenheim, Max Schreck
FW Murnau, Germany’s leading exponent of camera movement and Expressionism, who obliterated the boundaries between the real and the unreal and gave the cinema some of its most enduring silent masterworks, was born in 1888, studied art history at the universities of Berlin and Heidelberg from 1905 to 1910, and entered the film industry in 1919.
Murnau’s first masterpiece, Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors, 1922), was an unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, ‘Dracula’. Prana-Film, its producer, hadn’t enough money to buy adaptation rights or create imposing Expressionistic sets, so the film was largely shot on location on the Baltic coast and, for the Transylvania sequences, in Czechoslovakia.
Nosferatu stars Max Schreck in an unmatched Expressionistic portrayal of terror. Fans of Bela Lugosi’s performance seldom realise that an undead creature that has lain in damp earth for centuries wouldn’t look as sartorially resplendent as did Lugosi’s vampire, whose appearance was transferred intact from the Broadway stage play in which he’d starred. No freshly pressed tuxedo for Max Schreck, who looked exactly like the pestilential, rotting creature he in fact was; his bald dome is that of a rodent, as are his pointed ears and sharp, protruding fangs. Nor has anyone ¬– save, perhaps, Howard Hughes – ever sported such long fingernails as Schreck’s talons, clear evidence that he has lain in mouldering soil for aeons.
Murnau littered the production with eerie technical effects, including fast motion that transforms the count’s coach into a phantom carriage that jerks along expressionistically, and negative images that convert the forest through which the carriage darts into a chilling kingdom of ghosts, resulting in supernatural overtones never attempted in the later Tod Browning–directed Hollywood version. Cold, grey, grisly shadows hover over the entire film, whose art direction (by Albin Grau) and cinematography (by the great Fritz Arno Wagner) evoke what Béla Balázs called ‘glacial draughts from the beyond’.
What makes this crisp, new, multi-tinted restoration from the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung definitive is the presence, for the first time since 1922, of the original orchestral score by Hans Erdmann, as well as a new 52-minute documentary by Murnau specialist Luciano Berriatúa.
An iconic film of the German expressionist cinema, and one of the most famous of all silent movies, F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror continues to haunt — and, indeed, terrify — modern audiences with the unshakable power of its images. By teasing a host of occult atmospherics out of dilapidated set-pieces and innocuous real-world locations alike, Murnau captured on celluloid the deeply-rooted elements of a waking nightmare, and launched the signature "Murnau-style" that would change cinema history forever.
In this first-ever screen adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, a simple real-estate transaction leads an intrepid businessman deep into the superstitious heart of Transylvania. There he encounters the otherworldly Count Orlok — portrayed by the legendary Max Schreck, in a performance the very backstory of which has spawned its own mythology — who soon after embarks upon a cross-continental voyage to take up residence in a distant new land and establish his ambiguous dominion.
Remade by Werner Herzog in 1979 (and inspiring films as diverse as Abel Ferrara's King of New York and The Addiction, and E. Elias Merhige's Shadow of the Vampire), F. W. Murnau's surreal 1922 cine-fable remains the original and landmark entry in the entire global tradition of "the horror film".
Publisher: Eureka / Masters of Cinema
Length: 93 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 19th November 2007
Cat No: EKA40214
- 2 discs
- The film features, for the first time since the film's initial release in the 1920s, Hans Erdmann's original score
- Full-length audio commentary by Brad Stevens and R. Dixon Smith
- 80-page book containing articles by David Skal (author of Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen)
- Thomas Elsaesser (author of Weimar Cinema and After: Germany's Historical Imaginary)
- Gilberto Perez (author of The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium)
- Enno Patalas (former director of the M?nchner Stadtmuseum/Filmmuseum, where he was responsible for the restoration of many German classics, including Nosferatu)
- a newly translated archival piece on vampires by the film's producer Albin Grau
- notes on the film's restoration
- and archival imagery
- 53-minute German documentary about Murnau and the making of Nosferatu complete with fascinating footage of the film's locations today
- Restoration demonstration.
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