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Details At A Glance

Category Horror Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1922 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 80:42 minutes Other Extras Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Friedrich Murnau

Force Video
Starring Max Schreck
Gustav von Wangenheim
Greta Schroeder
Alexander Granach
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $29.95 Music Timothy Howard

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    There is no denying it, you certainly get a journey through the classics of film history when investigating the Force Video catalogue. This time they have returned to Germany for the early masterpiece and granddaddy of the Dracula films, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens or more commonly plain old Nosferatu, dating from way back in 1922. Whilst it is obviously based upon Bram Stoker's Dracula, this is something original in its own right. Indeed, if you believe the production notes that come on the disc, this was too close to the book and the widow of Bram Stoker succeeded in having all copies of the film destroyed except for one - which therefore must be the origin of this print. No doubt I shall be inundated with people telling me the true story, but all I am doing is repeating what the production notes tell, without any comment. Currently sitting in the lower echelons of the Internet Movie Database Top 250 (at around #172), does it deserve its reputation?

    For those not completely familiar with the original story by Bram Stoker, Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) works for an estate agent, Knock (Alexander Granach) who receives a commission from Count Orlok/Nosferatu (Max Schreck) for the purchase of a house. Thomas is given the task of travelling to Transylvania to complete the transaction, leaving behind his wife Ellen (Greta Schroeder). The closer Thomas gets to the castle of Count Orlok, the more he becomes aware of the fear the name creates in the local populace, until he is forced to complete his journey on foot after he coach will go no further. Thomas is then met by a strange coach which takes him to the castle where he completes the sale, and also discovers more than he would like about Count Orlok. The Count travels to Germany to take up residence in his new home, said journey causing the deaths of all the crew of the ship he is on, whilst Thomas desperately tries to return home to save his beloved Ellen. The rest is spoiler alert stuff, so you will have to read the book (or watch a film).

    Whilst the story has been done to death over the years in variations running from superb drama to lousy spoofs, this is pretty much the original take on the film versions, so a lot of what is here sets the benchmarks if you like. And there are some very good ones set, although perhaps makeup is not one of them. I suppose for 1922 the makeup job given Max Schreck was quite a frightening affair, but today looks decidedly passé and would be suitable in a spoof. Still, it is certainly ghoulish in looks. The main stunner here however is some of the visual effects employed, which for 1922 were state of the art, and even today hold up well enough - a classic example is the ghoulish appearance of Nosferatu on the ship. Max Schreck carries off the lead role well enough and has just the right sort of menace in the performance for 1922. Gustav von Wangenheim is effective as the boyishly enthusiastic estate agent clerk who slowly comes to realize the horror around him: indeed he is somewhat more effective in the role than say Keanu Reeves in the more recent Bram Stoker's Dracula. The rest of the cast are adequate in hardly very large roles, and the whole film is quite effective. Is it deserving of the accolades given it? Partly, as the film was very state of the art in 1922 from an effects point of view and it certainly has influenced the entire Dracula genre since - for better or for worse.

Transfer Quality


    Well, seventy seven years old - you have to expect certain transfer limitations, and we get them in abundance.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    The main problem here is that the film is tinted, which is fair enough except that the tinting sometimes compounds a quite murky looking transfer. This is especially so with some of the pinkish tinting. This is not a bright transfer at the best of times, and there are not too many best of times here at all, whilst sharpness is not an issue - it lacks it. The transfer lacks quite noticeably in depth which only compounds the murkiness even more. Shadow detail is reasonably poor throughout. We also get the obligatory editing jumps, and other vertical problems, throughout the film, although not too extreme. There is of course the variability in the brightness of the transfer, resulting in a nicely off-putting strobe effect.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts were not a problem either. However, there are plenty of film artefacts, and some are very bad and detract quite noticeably from the film. There were some really grotesque scratches and dirt marks. It would appear that the story board inserts are far more recent in vintage as they show no film artefacts at all.


    A silent film, so nothing much to worry about here, apart from the musical accompaniment.

    There is only one soundtrack on the DVD, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack, although English is of course quite a misnomer for a silent film.

    Dialogue ... hee, hee!

    The musical contribution to the film is from Timothy Howard and it is suitably evocative, although the punch lines in the music often did not sync well with the punch lines on the screen - but this is a common enough problem with horror films of the thirties, so why not the twenties!

    This is quite a decent mono soundtrack and the music comes through quite nicely, without being too intrusive and distracting from the film. At times it did almost sound as if it was surround encoded, which really would have been very nice for this organ based soundtrack.


    The usual brief extras package from Eureka Video (through Force Video).


    The standard menu design adopted for most of these releases by Eureka Video (through Force Video).

Production Notes

    Unfortunately incorrectly stated on the menu to be biographies. Quite short and lacking in context for what is supposed to be such a classic film of the genre.

R4 vs R1

   The Region 1 version of the film comes from Image and the references refer to a digital remastering by film historian David Shepherd. It would appear that this is a different mastering all together to this release.

   The Region 4 version misses out on:

   It would seem that Region 1 is the way to go, as this hardly gives the impression of being a digital transfer from the best available source, and those extras are definitely the sort of things I have been lamenting the lack of in these Force Video releases.


    Nosferatu is an interesting film in as much as it sets the stage pretty much for every Dracula film that followed, but you would need to be a real film buff to sit down with this one for eighty odd minutes.

    The overall video quality is quite poor for a film of this vintage.

    The overall audio quality is good for a film of this vintage.

    The extras package needs improving along the lines of the Region 1 release.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
12th December 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL