Nosferatu DVD Review
PictureThe disc presents a fullscreen 1.33:1 transfer timed to run at 18 frames per second and had been completely re-mastered from the original surviving film prints. Let's not forget that this film is over eighty five years old and was destined for destruction, it is remarkable that any prints survived at all. That said, this transfer is quite, quite breath taking in its clarity. I have own this film on three different discs now and this one is by far the best. The Kino presentation I thought at the time couldn't be bettered, I'm glad I was wrong. The frame is held absolutely steady. The detail is outstanding with well defined edges way into the frame. The colour tints are strong and bold with the contrast and brightness levels set so that blacks are actually black. Yes there are instances when they take up the hue of the colour tints, but I'm pretty sure that would have happened on the original showing too. The damage has nearly been eradicated, there are no longer any serious flaws with this print, there are still the occasional tram line but even they are extremely light. The frame is wide, does not fade until right at the edge and is pretty much at constant brightness. I am stunned at how good this print has turned out, normally excessive digital clean up can lead to its own problems, but there are none here; no compression problems, no edge enhancement no softness to the edge. A quite astonishingly good picture.
SoundThere are two sound tracks for the original score, Dolby Digital 2.0 and a remixed 5.1. I actually preferred the 5.1 it gave some very nice separation and filled the room with its wonderful strings. There was good bass, everything sounding very natural. Both left right and front rear separation was discernable, giving the appearance of listening being in the centre of the music stage. There was absolutely no background hiss and even when turned up to eleven. For what it is a fine transfer.
ExtrasFirst up there is an audio commentary with Brad Stevens and R. Dixon Smith, two scholars that sit back and muse on the film in a pretty scene by scene basis. They discuss their subject matter with that ease that only comes from knowing it inside out. If you know much about the film and Murnau then there are patches of their talk that will go over old ground, however, much of what they have to say is very interesting and informative. They discuss and compliment each others styles bouncing ideas and information around the room, I found it engaging and entertaining, but then I love the film. Objectively it might be a little stale for most peoples taste in one sitting.
Next up is a German produced documentary on Murnau's early life, influences and films with particular attention to Nosferatu. Takes us to the surviving locations where the film was shot, amazing how much has changed and how much has stayed the same. It narrated in German and has various interviews with English subtitles. I found it a fascinating program.
There is a short restoration demonstration, again in German with subtitles, showing the various stages of digitisation, repair and colourisation used to bring the film to the glorious picture presented on this disc. One watch really.
Finally there is a 96 page booklet accompanying this set, unfortunately it was not supplied with the check discs so I can't comment on it, the following is direct from the publicity:
A 96-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 Münchner 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.
VerdictWithout Nosferatu it is safe to say the horror genre as we know today might not exist; its influence can be traced through time to every horror film after it. Thanks to this 2007 F.W. Murnau-Stiftung restoration modern audiences can now appreciate the full scope of this horror masterpiece. It is one of my favourite films of all time, not only for itself, but also what it stands for. A landmark film deserving of its place in the hall of the giants.
As a DVD Eureka have produced an exciting package, the full version of the film with original inter-titles and score are enough to make the worth the recommendation; add to that the superlative picture and sound quality and a decent extras package this set becomes a must have. Any self respecting horror fan owes it to him or herself to seek out Nosferatu and see where it all began, horror at its most horrible.
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