Nosferatu on DVD and Blu-ray

Tuesday, 26 November 2013 15:11 Written by 

Nosferatu comes to Blu-ray and DVDA little over ninety years since its original release, F W Murnau's gothic-horror classic returns in stunningly remastered high-definition. “Nosferatu - A Symphony of Horrors” (to use its full title) is a vampire movie that draws heavily from Dracula. Max Schreck stars as Count Orlock, a mysterious Transylvanian aristocrat seeking a suitable property in the fictitious German town of Wisborg, with devastating consequences for the local population.

A naive gentleman called Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) makes the long trek to the Count's remote castle to discuss housing options, foolishly ignoring warnings about the horror that awaits. Back in Wisborg, Thomas's sweetheart Ellen (Greta Schröder) is driven close to insanity by the misery brought on by their enforced separation, and also the influence of a strange telepathic connection to the Count.

The story mirrors that of Bram Stoker's famous novel quite closely, and the film has since been referenced both directly and as an homage by many other directors, most notably “Shadow of the Vampire” starring Willem Dafoe, and also Francis Ford Coppola's “Dracula”.

There are some wonderfully iconic scenes in the movie, and the framing, sets and epic landscapes lend it a breath-taking sense of scale and solidity. Whilst Schreck in full vampire makeup might not be as chilling as he was all those decades ago, his stiff, spidery movements still manage to be creepy, though they are out-performed by his shadow that menacingly oozes and warps up staircases and over his victim's bodies before he strikes.

The classical soundtrack by Hans Erdmann is an excellent accompaniment to the silent action, a patchwork by turns uplifting and soaked through with dread. It may not be especially subtle but it is entirely fitting for the film. As in other silent movies from the era, the monotone picture changes colour to convey the time of day as well as the mood of the scene.

The new restoration is fantastic, especially on Blu-ray where every brick, cobble and branch is depicted in crisp high-definition. There is admittedly still a fair amount of damage and noise on-screen but it is a tiny fraction of that present in the original release, and if anything helps to add atmosphere.

Special features include:

  • Brand new high-definition restoration by Friedrich - Wilhelm - Murnau – Stiftung;
  • Two audio commentaries: one newly recorded by film historian David Kalat; tand he second by historian R Dixon Smith and critic Brad Stevens;
  • “The Language of Shadows” - a 53-minute documentary on Murnau's early years and the filming of “Nosferatu”;
  • New video interview with BFI Film Classics "Nosferatu" author Kevin Jackson;
  • Newly translated English subtitles with original German intertitles; and
  • 56-page booklet featuring writings and rare imagery.

The interview with Jackson is particularly informative, especially his coverage of the various subtexts of the film, and the documentary features some good location 'then and now' footage to reveal what the settings look like today.

“Nosferatu” (1922) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Eureka Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 97 minutes approx, carries a ‘PG’ certificate and retails for £19.99 on DVD and Blu-ray, and £29.99 on steelbook Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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