Production Year: 1922
Release Date: 11-12-2013
Studio: Kino
Collection Number: 1426

Spiraling stair cases, Gothic exteriors, deep menacing shadows, welcome to the world of the German expressionist film.  While there are many fine examples out there, 1922's Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau) is probably the most celebrated.

Roughly adapted from Bram Stoker's Dracula, this film portrays the vampire (Graf Orlok; Max Schreck) as an evil rat-like creature as opposed to the suave Transylvanian most people are familiar with.  If you're reading this you likely already know the famous story. A Realtor named Hutter (Gustav v. Wangenheim) heads to Transylvania to pay a visit to Orlok who's looking to purchase some property.  While the sale goes as planned Hutter winds up prisoner of the count, eventually Orlok makes his way to Hutter's hometown bringing with him a grand plague of death.

While I do prefer the Tod Browning/Bela Lugosi team, something really has to be said for what Max Schreck and F.W. Murnau did.  The film is exceptionally creepy, part of it being the strange sets and stark shots lensed by the director, the rest of it owed to Schreck's inhuman performance.

Murnau made the film in true guerrilla form, not getting permission from Stoker's estate for use of the Dracula story.  Eventually the widow Stoker sued Murnau, the outcome was to have all known prints of Nosferatu destroyed.  Lucky for us she was not successfully and eventually prints of the film began to slowly resurface.  Can you imagine a world without this film?  Yeah, it blows.

I've posted some screen comparisons here showing the jump in quality when you compare Kino's disc to a past DVD release.  It's pretty big.  I know there are some people out there who think only new films can benefit from a high definition transfer, they're wrong.  While this isn't demo quality by any means, it really does look great.  

Mastered from a 35MM restoration, the original colors and clarity have been restored.  When you combine that with the addition of Hans Erdmann's original score you get a pretty faithful rendition of the film you would have seen had you been around in 1922.  While it does suffer from age related issues (scratches, debris, etc) this is probably the best I've ever seen this film look.  

There are two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 and a 2.0 stereo.  The sound is really superb, given they were only having to remaster the score, it's free of a lot of the issues some of the older films suffer.  

Thumbs up on both ends. 

Disc 1

The Language of Shadows (53:07 SD) - The first half of this documentary concentrates on the career of director F.W. Murnau, the later half firmly covers Nosferatu.  During the portion featuring the famed Vampire flick they cover everything from filming locations to it's initial reception. 

Excerpts from other F.W. Murnau films (43:10 SD) - Various film clips from Journey Into the Night (1920), The Haunted Castle (1921), Phantom (1922), The Fiances of the Grand Duke (1924), The Last Laugh (1924), Tartuffe (1925), Faust (1926), and lastly, Tabu (1931).  These might seem like filler, but it's certainly a good way to become acquainted with the director's other work.  The quality does vary from time to time with some clips looking better than others. 

Trailer (1:08 HD) - A basic trailer that's been created by Kino specifically for this release.

Disc 2

Nosferatu with original German intertitles (1:35:27 HD) - This is the basic feature in it's original German form.

Nosferatu is a film that's considered public domain, as such you'll find that every cheap company under the sun has tried their hand at releasing it.  While this means you can find a copy for pennies, generally what you're getting is a degraded version of the film.  Because of these issues, niche companies tend to stay away from remastering titles like Nosferatu as their hard work will generally be stolen by said cheap companies.  

It's a great movie and this is a great edition.  I urge you to throw your money at a company like Kino before you ever consider buying one of the many budget releases.  You might have to spend a little extra, but it's well worth it in the long run.