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on October 22, 2016
This 1922 classic ranks only slightly before The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as my favorite horror film of all time (the silents did it better, people!), so naturally I was eager to purchase the new Blu-ray version released by Kino Lorber, which has a terrific track record for bringing these silent gems to the public rather than treat them as outdated curiosities no modern audiences would find relevance in.

First off, while some misinformed members of the public would tell you that anything "pre-HD" does not benefit from Blu-ray's high-definition mastering process ("They didn't have HD in the 1920s!"), a short correction is necessary here: the 1990s and 2000s did not "invent" HD resolution. HD is simply a digital moniker telling one how many pixels are available in an image. The more pixels, the higher the resolution. When it comes to celluloid film, such as what Nosferatu and basically anything pre-2000s was shot on, once that film is scanned into a digital format via a machine, the amount of resolution in those frames of celluloid provide more digital pixels than our current HDTVs can even show you. In short, HD is a digital term and all FILM, when scanned to digital, exceeds HD requirements in terms of pixels.

So now that we have put to rest the idea that films like Nosferatu do not benefit from HD, let us delve into the actual Blu-ray.

Kino is notorious for doing very little cleanup on their silent film titles, as too much scrubbing to remove excessive scratches and dirt from the frames can smudge detail and lead to an inconsistent grain structure. Contrary to what you have have heard, grain on film is a good thing--it is the equivalent of a digital pixel. It makes up the detail in the image. Remove too much, and you end up with a low-resolution, waxy picture devoid of sharp detail and fine lines. This is not to say that Kino has released Nosferatu with blemishes and smudges that make the film unwatchable. It means they have cleaned the picture up just enough to allow you to see the increased detail HD provides without overly distracting elements like film splices and hairs getting in the way of your enjoyment.

The release will also be a shock to many who have been accustomed to seeing films like Nosferatu in stark black-and-white, as Kino's release (and previous DVD) is color tinted. This means some daytime shots are bathed in yellow and the nighttime photography is often blue. Don't mistake these alterations for useless revisionism--the original prints of the film, like many other silent films of the era, were tinted since color film, which did exist but was highly costly to utilize, was not the norm in the 1920s. In the case of this Blu-ray, the tints have been historically re-created to be true to the way Nosferatu would have looked in 1922.

In terms of soundtrack, we only get one score, with the option to listen to it in 5.1 surround sound or a more pared-down 2.0 version.

There has been some contention among fans that Kino created quite a blunder with this release by accidentally removing frames and chopping off an estimated 11% of the film. This stems from the fact that silent films were often projected at speeds of 18 frames per second as opposed to the modern 24 frames per second. To compensate, different algorithms are used to display these frames at the proper speed on modern television sets. Some fans have discovered that Kino inadvertently used an inferior process that results in frame jumps at intermittent points in the presentation, leading to a loss of a small portion of a scene that collectively add up to a loss of 11% of the frames over the course of the running time. They cite the UK's BFI Blu-ray as being free of this issue.

While I have only seen Nosferatu in black-and-white versions previously and have no way of viewing the non-region free UK release for comparison, I will say this: while there are occasional frame jumps such as a character seeming to magically skip forward a few steps when walking, for instance, these issues are not overly detrimental to the experience and are not quite as disastrous as they are made out to be. Kino, for their part, has not openly acknowledged an issue, despite being made aware of the problem, and many online reviewers whose job it is to review Blu-rays do not mention this being a problem or a concern. I scoured online reviews for this particular release for hours and could not come up with a single one that spoke negatively of the release in relation to this alleged framing issue. My conclusion is they were either completely ignorant of the problem (which lends credence to the fact it cannot be that noticeable offhand if none of them caught it), or they were aware of it but felt it was of negligible concern. If the issue were so horrible, surely one of them would have made note of it?

As for the image quality itself, the disc is gorgeous. The viewer is presented with two viewing options: a version with English inter-titles and the original German version with German inter-titles and English subtitles. I would recommend going for the latter, as it is the most authentic and also contains a bit more picture information at the top and bottom of the frame than the English version (and some say the resolution on this version is better, too).

With a beautiful 1080p picture and wonderful color tinting, this 1922 classic looks stunning in HD and Kino has done a commendable job breathing new life into this horror gem. For fans of the film or silent film lovers in general, this is a must-buy.
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on June 19, 2015
A mid-silent era masterpiece by F.W. Murnau, Nosferatu almost became a "lost" film. Its production company, Prana, was sued by Bram Stoker's estate. The court ordered all its negatives and prints destroyed and Prana declared bankruptcy to get out from under the damage award. Nosferatu was the only film Prana produced. Seems a copy or two got buried in collections or archives, to be exhumed decades later bringing it back to life, ironically fitting for a vampire movie. A number of characteristics of vampires, as depicted in the movies (but not necessarily in the book), were established in Nosferatu, most notably the deadly allergy to direct sunlight.

The grandfather of horror films, Nosferatu terrified its audiences. Banned in Sweden 1922-1972 for being too horrifying. The latter date is more related to its exhumation, resurrection and re-release than any great enlightenment taking fifty years. The movie serves today as a superb study in the use of cinematography framing and lighting with use of light and shadow, as well as post-production tinting and some other techniques, to help tell the story and express emotion in the silent era. The modest over-acting is what one normally expects in the silent era, but it's not as high an over the top melodrama as seen in other silents. This was not a high budget film and the special effects are nearly non-existent beyond makeup and Nosferatu's prosthetics. However, there was considerable thought put into every aspect that was filmed for the mood it created, particularly with use of light and shadow, and its contribution to the story telling. Murnau used the equivalent of story boards and the script contains considerable notes regarding locations used and production design, on location and at the Berlin Prana studios sets. Pacing is good and consistent for the silent era and intertitles. The story has a very logical sequence and doesn't bog down anywhere. Likewise, the character development is decent for the principals; while there is some for the major supporting roles, it's noticeably less, likely for efficiency and maintaining the pacing.

Finally, the movie must be put into the context of Berlin in its early interbellum years. The war ended in 1918 with Germany's monarchy collapsing creating a political vacuum. German lands held since the 1870's and earlier were ceded by the 1919 Versailles Treaty to other countries, along with submitting to massive war reparation payments. Germany was in continuous political turmoil within the Weimar Republic, including rampant economic inflation induced by the crippling war reparations and restrictions on its heavy industry. Within a country trying to find a new identity and recover from a war, Berlin became a freewheeling "anything goes" social hotbed. It was in that environment the German film industry rose in prominence and the German Expressionist films were created. German Expressionist cinema production emigrated to the UK and US during the early 1930's with the rise of the Nazi party, its rabid antisemitism, and rigid absolute state control of all cinema production. The result was heavy influence on US and UK horror films, film noir, suspense and other crime films through the 1940's. Nosferatu is one of several silent era films that show the basis and origin of this influence. In particular, compare Nosferatu with Universal's 1931 Dracula.

Nosferatu may have lost its ability to terrify contemporary audiences, but it hasn't lost its ability to entertain them and illuminate the basis from which the horror genre's basic principles originated and grew. Count Orlok is as repulsive an evil villain today as he was over 90 years ago.

Blu-ray contains two discs, one with English intertitles and the other with German intertitles and English sub-titles. Blu-ray transfer is quite good given the condition of the source material, and includes some restoration work including missing intertitles. The sharpness and detail (within the limitations of the film source) is undoubtedly an improvement over the DVD. Recording of the original musical score is excellent. There are some extras that give a very good background about F.W. Murnau, Prana studios, the film's production, and Murnau's associates.
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on February 26, 2017
While I do not know a lot of things about B&W silent films from the early 20th Century and I'm not a movie fan myself in general, I caught myself to do a research on this one because I wanted to learn about film-making and horror genre around last October. When I researched this, I was surprised by all of the praises and influential of this movie since it was made. The reason why I wanted to watch this just to see how it's well-made back then so let me give you my thought on this old movie.

PLOT:
A gothic, horror film that tells a story about a vampire named Count Orlok to explore the German city of Wisbog to make a plague. As for the story, it's well unique and aged. It isn't hard to watch if you aren't a modern movie-goer where today's audiences only cares about today's technology. If this is hard for to watch all the way through, then do something else for your interest and that doesn't make you a good movie audience when it comes to 20th Century movies. Isn't that quite simple?

ACTING:
Acting it exactly how it needs to be. Modern audiences would probably say they're overacting and that's false. This movie was made in different era. The acting was on point. Max Schreck's, an actor who played the vampiric character, acting's the biggest thing this was ever done and that's how it carried the story. If Academy Awards was existed at the time, then this Best Male Acting in Leading Role would go to Max Schreck, in my opinion.

DIRECTION:
Simple to say about this. The director, F.W. Murnau, did an excellent job on this one. The movie made a perfect direction on the characters, places and story the way this movie needed to be. Sure, it took time and work but it nailed to the point on how this movie carried the story.

EDITING:
Different era. Editing, however, is not an easy job to do. This job does take a lot of patient and editor have to make sure a person edits scene-to-scene after each direction. Modern audience may say this job might be made from the computing or whatever but that's not true, this was made by the order of the director with the camera and his crew done this scene after scene, that's how it worked. There was no computer at that era, just filmed the movie with the camera on your own. Simple.

MUSIC:
The soundtrack is fantastic and dramatic. However, the version of this soundtrack may be different because this is a Blu-ray version, so this movie has different versions of music when it's on VHS, DVD or Blu-ray. Maybe I can say who knows?

Now this is a movie that really paved the way for horror since. About my opinion on this movie, why would I give the film a praise? The movie is an absolute masterpiece. Considering the year the movie was made, using everything to the power it could. The acting, cinematography, musical score, directing, editing, atmosphere, makeup design and costumes are all top-notch for this movie. Everything about this movie is mysterious and phenomenal, the way Max Schreck walks and his hand gestures. There are things to say about this movie is just mysterious, no matter how amazing this movie was made back then. It's 1922 and this movie shown the true power of film-making that changed cinema forever. I haven't watched "Metropolis" or "The Artist" yet, so I'll keep in mind about silent movies that has good film-making. As I say again, this movie is a finest masterpiece and I will now consider it as one of my 5 greatest films ever made and all-time. If you love movies and want to learn about film-making in general, then this movie is a must-see! Highly recommend!
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on September 17, 2016
The only production of Prana Film, this is an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Because the studio was unable to purchase the rights to the source material, they made a series of alterations, though not enough to avoid a lawsuit from Stoker's widow. Fortunately, some copies survived the court-ordered destruction of the film, and so it is we have a marvelous production of a legendary horror story.

The tumultuous legal history aside, the film itself is nothing short of magnificent. The pacing of the film is very good, the story split into a series of acts, and things move along steadily so that you never feel as if the film is milling about unnecessarily (part of its troubled production was its limited budget and shooting times, and you can compare the shadows in same-location scenes to tell the passing of mere hours). It's said that Murnau used a metronome to pace each scene's acting.

One thing I enjoy seeing in silent-era films is what proves wrong the label of "black-and-white" films: that scenes are colored in different ways to match the mood or the time of day, such as night scenes being in black-and-blue or black-and-purple. While many black-and-white films have a good quality to them that can hold even in modern-made films such as The Artist, seeing these older pictures with more tonal coloring just adds a welcome touch that I really wish someone would try again. It really does make a difference.

Another element is the lighting, or rather, the shadowing (Murnau famously called film-making the "language of shadows," as he felt shadows were more important than lighting). Seeing Court Orlok's shadow on the wall, or reaching upon someone's heart, is a chilling image and a brilliant storytelling technique, with a strong symbolism to it.

Orlok himself, played by Max Schreck, is a very well-done character. His bald and subtly-misshapen head, his elongated ears, his bulging eyes and gaunt cheeks, his pointed nose, and his clawed hands present a thoroughly-unsettling form, and it's made all the more frightening by his fangs (laughable by modern standards, since they're basically his two front teeth rather than sharpened incisors). In the making-of, it's revealed that his makeup and overall costuming caused many locals to shun him and treat him like the Devil himself.

The other characters are certainly well-done, with the crooked real estate broker, Knock, being a very comical imitation of Renfield, much to my satisfaction. The protagonist, Hutter (a mirror to Johnathan Harker), definitely gets points for being fairly courageous, in both his attempt to confront Orlok and his escape from the castle. The substitute for Van Helsing, Professor Bulwer, is a good figure as well, though I imagine many viewers might feel let down by his lack of action in comparison to any number of other Dracula adaptations; it should be noted that Dr. Seward's mirror shares comparable screen time and accomplishment.

A special note for Ellen, Hutter's wife. Her likeness in a memento that Orlok sees causes on the film's most hilarious lines (admittedly the intent is to be alarmed by the Count's attention), and her emotional connection to Hutter causes her to display some nerve-wracking acts, causing other characters to believe her struck by unknown maladies. The ending scene with her, built up to by her reading of a very particular book, is especially stirring.

I was going to ask for this for my birthday, but ended up refraining and instead using a birthday gift card to purchase it (which amounts to more or less the same thing, I suppose). I'm very glad I did get around to not only seeing but owning this, because I'd really like to watch it again one day and finish watching the extras, and perhaps even take the time to view the version on the second disc, which is the version with German intertitles.

Very highly recommend.
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on February 7, 2014
This is a review of the Kino Classics Deluxe Restored Blu-Ray.

I already owned the Image DVD of Nosferatu when I upgraded to the Kino Blu-Ray. Good choice. The Image disc had a fine restoration hampered by a slightly fuzzy image, fluctuating contrast, a soporific organ score (still superior to the chintzy-sounding synth score), and some smaller quirks that I found irritating (the shades used for tinting were a bit too vivid, the frame rate was a little too fast, and some of the scene transitions and intertitles appearing "digitized," for want of a better word).

This Blu-Ray is absolutely not a perfect presentation, but that has entirely to do with the degraded source materials, not the restoration or encoding. Visual imperfections abound - stretched frames, fluctuating brightness, assorted scratches - but it's obvious that immense care went into minimizing these distractions without detracting from the film itself. Overall, the picture is stunning, with fine details (set decor, facial expressions) and grand vistas (the mountain cinematography in the first act) given clarity that I've never encountered, with nicely balanced contrast and appropriate grain. The frame rate is corrected to a modern-day standard; the intertitles are stylish and easily read; and the tinting has pleasant, organic tones (similar to the Murnau Foundations equally excellent Nibelungen restoration). These factors count for a lot, since I'd say the "old-fashioned" appearance of silent movies (even more than the lack of sync-sound) is the greatest barrier to a present-day viewer.

Honestly, I would have bought a new copy of Nosferatu just for a more lively musical track, and the restoration of the original score is excellent, alternatingly grand and austere to compliment the action onscreen. It's not a long movie, but I've never been able to tear through it the way I did with this edition. The restoration truly enhances the viewing experience.

As for the movie itself, it's not my favorite silent movie (or my favorite vampire movie), but it's still captivating to watch, much more lively than its reputation suggests, and deserves the absolutely superb presentation it receives here.
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on October 8, 2017
Silent horror classic picture quality awesome great movie plus 52 minute documentary much much more. Great soundtrack must see for horror fans
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on July 20, 2017
This was a fantastic product.
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on August 29, 2017
A gothic romantic classic. You really should read Bram Stoker's original "Dracula" though for the full effect.
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on November 17, 2013
I'm not here to rehash the storyline or talk about the extra features included on the discs, you know the story and can read about the extras yourself. I am going to tell you this is the finest release of Nosferatu yet produced. Period. The picture quality on Blu-ray is absolutely amazing. Some scenes will make you feel as though Nosferatu were recently filmed and simply digitally altered to look old. I was stunned to see how much fine detail they were able to extract from the various film elements that have survived.
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on August 16, 2015
Nosferatu, is a very interesting old film. This is another German horror film like the Golem and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It was released in 1922 and basically stole it source material from Bram Stoker's Dracula. The director F.W. Murnau just changed the names of the Characters in the film, but it is basically the same story.Max Shreck's Count Orloc is much more creepy than Bela Lugosi Dracula. The long gaunt face, the elf ears, the long fingers, the long vampire teeth are his two center teeth like extra long buck teeth give Orloc that extra creepy look. The is one of a dangerous monster who kills many people and his weakness is discovered by the Heroine. This where the movie differs from the book in how the vampire is defeated. There is that Gothic feel to the film, that help build that sense of dread and strangeness that helped set the pattern for all vampire films that would follow. Unlike other vampire films, people who die from his bite do not turn in to vampires. There is a scene where we see a long procession of men carrying coffins through the middle of the street. The deaths are attributed to the plague. Ellen sees the long procession and figures out the real reason for all the dead being paraded through the streets. She has found the small book on vampires that her husband found in Orloc's castle., after his belongings were sent home. This movie is well worth owning and watching. This is one of the three German films that helped set the standard for all the Horror films that followed. Most people don't like the old black and white silent films and yet they are important films that not only set the tone for the Horror films that followed, they also developed styles and techniques that were copied in all types of film genres to follow. A great film.
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