The above title is a bit of a misnomer. My review isn’t so much about the groundbreaking, absolutely excellent 1922 film as much as about the just released 2013 Kino BluRay HD remaster of Nosferatu.
In a word: Wow.
I’ve listed my top three films of all time before (Metropolis, Orpheus, and 2001: A Space Odyssey). If I were to expand the list to four, Nosferatu would get strong consideration to be the next entry. I consider it THE best adaptation (illegal though it was) of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. For those who don’t know, Bram Stoker’s widow sued the studio that released Nosferatu, claiming copyright infringement on her husband’s work. She won the lawsuit (not a big surprise as the film is essentially Dracula) and it was ordered that all prints of the film be destroyed. Many were. Luckily for us, not all.
While Dracula may be best known for its Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee characterization, you’ve never seen a vampire quite as sinister as Max Shreck’s Count Orlok.
When I heard Kino was working on a remastered version of the film, I knew I had to have it. I’ve seen Nosferatu at least a dozen times with varying degrees of visual clarity, from muddy to pretty good.
The Kino BluRay is easily the best of the lot.
Images are incredibly clear. Yes, there is grain and scratch marks here and there (we are talking about a film that is close to 100 years old!), but I can honestly say watching this version of the film is like seeing it for the proverbial first time. Details that I hadn’t noticed before came to incredible life. For example, the opening shot of the city and church, something that never impressed me in previous versions I had seen of the film, was simply eye-popping.
And that was the very opening scene!
If, like me, you’re already fan of the film and have one or more copies of it on disc and are on the fence about whether to buy the BluRay, don’t. This is VERY MUCH worth getting. You’ll likely throw away just about every other version of the film you have. If you’ve never seen Nosferatu before and are curious to see it, this is the version you should get. Hell, even if you’re not a big fan of silent films, I can’t see how anyone with even a little curiosity about this classic wouldn’t find something to enjoy within.
Nosferatu is a truly seminal work. And now, as released in BluRay, you can enjoy it as if it were almost brand new.
Some interesting trivia about the film can be found at IMDB’s page devoted to the film. Check it out:
Two of my favorites:
The character of Nosferatu is only seen on screen for a bit less than nine minutes in total throughout the whole film.
I can totally believe it! Nosferatu, as depicted in this film, is a menace that lurks over all the film’s protagonists. Though he doesn’t have that much screen time, per se, his presence is felt almost from the first minutes and certainly until the last.
Ruth Landshoff, the actress who played the hero’s sister once described a scene in which she fled the vampire, running along a beach. That scene is not in any version of the film.
Ms. Landshoff’s character is present for much of the film and, toward the end SPOILERS!!! we see that she, like many of the other townspeople, has succumbed to Nosferatu’s “plague”. Yet we never really find out what became of her, suspecting she like so many others died but not knowing for sure. Perhaps there was a further scene like what is described above that was filmed to show her actually falling to Nosferatu yet was ultimately not used. Very interesting stuff.