Nosferatu (Gryphon) (1922) (NTSC)

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Released 25-Aug-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Cult Booklet
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1922
Running Time 79:06
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Max Schreck
Gustav Von Wangenhelm
Greta Schroeder
Alexander Granach
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music None Given


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 mono (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Nosferatu or, to give it its full title, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, is a German expressionist silent film classic from 1922 directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. It is the grandfather of all vampire films and rightly deserves its cult status as it is a great film containing stunning images that are still incredibly powerful.

     Because of legal action – the film is the Dracula story but the rights were never obtained – no original prints of the film exist. As befits a film of this status, there have been numerous releases of Nosferatu around the world with commentaries, extras and restored versions of the film. For a fairly comprehensive listing of the various versions see the dvdcompare site here. For a direct comparison of a couple of the best releases see the dvdbeaver site review here. There was also an excellent release of the film in Australia that was reviewed on this site here.

     Fans of the film will already have one of the better Region 0 releases. The version presented in this three disc, six film Blood Suckers set from Gryphon is a 79:06 minute unrestored print that has English cards and titles that use the Bram Stoker names, not those of the German film. Thus Count Dracula, not Count Orlok, Harker not Hutter, Nina not Ellen, Renfield not Knock.

     In brief, and using the names of this release, Jonathan Harker (Gustav von Wangenheim), leaving his young wife Nina (Greta Schroeder) behind, is sent from Bremen to Transylvania to complete a real estate purchase that Count Dracula (Max Schreck) has made in Bremen. There, in Dracula’s castle he makes some disturbing discoveries, including waking up with two bite marks on this neck and later finding the Count sleeping in a coffin! Leaving Harker, the Count embarks in a coffin on a ship through the Black Sea to Bremen; at each port the ship calls the plague spreads, and when the ship arrives in Bremen the crew are all dead or missing. Harker hurries back to Bremen and is reunited with Nina. The plague is spreading in Bremen and Nina realises she is being watched from across the road. She finds a book that explains that a vampire can only be destroyed by a woman without sin offering her blood to distract the vampire until the cock crows. She sends her husband on an errand and leaves the way open for Dracula: and as he feeds, the sun comes up.

     Nosferatu is a gem of a film and rightly deserves its cult status. Murnau’s use of light and shadow is exceptional and scenes such as the vampire, framed in the doorway (29:13), or the menacing shadows (30:39, 74:56) are still powerful 90 years after the film was made. Max Schreck is not a model for the more recent “sexy” vampires: he is pale, thin and has a mesmerising stillness whenever he appears that can still produce dread. He is, in a word, perfect, and I love the conceit in the excellent 2000 film about the making of Nosferatu, Shadow of the Vampire with Willem Dafoe as Schreck and John Malkovick as Murnau, that Schreck was a real vampire!

     Nosferatu is included in the six film, three DVD collection Blood Suckers, a set from Gryphon of vampire tales from around the world, Germany, Spain, Italy and England, from 1922 to 1974. The full list is Nosferatu (1922) and Vampyr (1932) on disc 1, Atom Age Vampire (1960) and Fangs of the Living Dead (1969) on disc 2 and Vampire Night Orgy (1974) and Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride (1973) on disc 3. The set also includes an informative 8 page booklet.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Nosferatu is presented in a ratio of 1.33:1 and is not16x9 enhanced. The print is NTSC format. The IMDb gives the original ratio as 1.33:1, although I suspect that it might be 1.37:1. This is because the opening credits are very tight on both sides of the screen; this may also explain the issue with the text cards noted below.

     This is a 90 year old film that looks better than I had expected, although it is not the restored version. It is, not surprisingly, a very soft print with continual dirt marks and scratches, most small but some quite big. There are also frequent interlacing errors with rapid movements, and some macro blocking but again I have seen worse in more recent films. Detail is poor, on occasion objects and figures being indistinct (see for example 66:59) and shadow detail was non-existent. Blacks are various shades of grey and brightness and contrast fluctuate. While not a good print, the film is however never unwatchable.

     As this is a silent film there are no subtitles as such, only English cards that are mostly easy to read, although on occasion the card was not centred and words disappeared off the right side of the screen.

     There was a pause at 61:59 which may have been the layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a Linear PCM track at 1536 Kbps. As a silent film, there was obviously no dialogue or effects to comment on!

     No credit is listed for the musical accompaniment to the film on this DVD. Whoever it was, it was pretty horrible and may have been stock audio. For most of the first half of the film the accompaniment is loud and trilling organ music that has no connection with the events on screen. Later, when back in Bremen, the score becomes orchestral, before reverting to the organ for the climax. I found the music mostly annoying. There was hum and hiss evident in the moments when the music was not in full bore.

     Obviously there are no lip synchronization issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Booklet

     A booklet provides some interesting information and a summary for all the films in this set.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     As noted in the review, there are some excellent Region 0 releases of Nosferatu and an Australian release that are far superior in image quality and extras to this release. However, if you are just interested in seeing this cult classic for yourself, the Blood Suckers package for a RRP of $19.95 for six films is a bargain. Indeed, I cannot find an equivalent of this three disc, six film package in any other region.

Summary

     Made in 1922, Nosferatu is the grandfather of all vampire films. It rightly deserves its cult status as it is a great film containing stunning images that are still incredibly powerful, 90 years after the film was made. The video is better than expected and the film is never unwatchable, despite this being the unrestored version. It is a silent film, with indifferent music accompaniment.

     Nosferatu is included in the six film, three DVD collection Blood Suckers, a set from Gryphon of vampire tales from around the world from 1922 to 1974. This release of Nosferatu is a long way from the best available, but if you just want a look at this gem the Blood Suckers package for a RRP of $19.95 for six films is a bargain.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, March 05, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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