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Murnau [Import]

Emil Jannings , Max Schreck , F.W. Murnau    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Second strike at Murnau by Kino May 28 2009
Ok folks, so here's the deal.

Kino has previously released "Nosferatu" in a two-disc special edition. The first one contained the version with the translated intertitles, the second one the version with the original german intertitles. They have also released "The Last Laugh" months later, again on a two-disc special edition, with both the restored german version, and the unrestored export version. Both releases contained a handful of bonuses. After that, they have worked on three other Murnau releases. "The Haunted Castle" and "The Finances of the Grand Duke", both minor Murnau works, had never been available in proper versions. They now are, sold individually or in this new box set. The other release they were working on was a restored version of the epic "Faust", now also available in this box set.

HOWEVER, there is also, like "Nosferatu" and "The Last Laugh" a two-disc version of it, sold individually and containing, on the second disc, the unrestored american export version that was previously available in the OLD Murnau box set from Kino, and which is rather crappy. Since the old Murnau box contained versions that are now outdated, Kino has decided to make an updated set, containing their three new restored versions, their two newly acquired movies and an old one from the old box set, just because it's an important movie in the Murnau canon. For monetary and practical reasons, they have dumped the unrestored/untranslated material from the package, thus making "Nosferatu", "The Last Laugh" and "Faust" one-disc editions, however carrying ALL of the bonuses from the two-disc versions.

Here's what I suggest: if you don't own any of these releases, buy this box set.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the kind of stuff Kino does that is maddening Jan. 1 2009
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
Murnau is an essential silent director. His works are a visual feast that translate well across nationalities and across almost a century of time. If I didn't already own any of Murnau's works this would be the way to go - updated versions of films that Kino had put out in the past (Nosferatu/The Last Laugh/Tartuffe) plus two more new to DVD (The Haunted Castle/The Finances of the Grand Duke). However, this is where Kino makes me a little bit cra zy. Kino has already released The Last Laugh (Restored Deluxe Edition) in the fall, and quite a few of us have already purchased that separately, blindsided by this upcoming boxed set. If I had known I would have waited. However, let me say, the restored Last Laugh is a treat. Every detail you ever read about the film is now clearly visible. If Kino has done the same with the upcoming releases of Faust and the two new films, it will surely be wonderful. However, this now leaves Murnau's "Tabu" unviewable, since it is not in this new box set and not sold separately. It is only available in the old Murnau set The F.W. Murnau Collection (Nosferatu/The Last Laugh/Faust/Tabu/Tartuffe). On top of that, the older version of Nosferatu is already in German Horror Classics (Nosferatu (1922) / The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari / Waxworks / The Golem).

The point is, Kino has presented us with a Rubik's cube of overlapping box sets of silent films that makes not purchasing duplicates impossible. However, I am grateful for the work Kino does in upgrading these silents as technology gets better.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murnau Dec 14 2009
By Carlos E. Velasquez - Published on Amazon.com
Friedrich Wilhem Plumpe (1888-1931) -- F.W. Murnau - was, without a doubt, one of Germany's - and the world, for that matter - most talented directors. In fact, he was voted as the 33rd Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly magazine. I am sure that he would have accomplished much more if his life would have not being drastically cut short by a tragic automobile accident in Santa Barbara, California, in 1931. The fantastic and extremely important "Murnau" is a fascinating and historical six-DVD box set that KINO put together with some of this filmmakers' best work, which covers the whole range of his talent and vision.

All the films included in this collection have been restored for their German release and some, as "Faust," "The Haunted Castle," and The Finances of the Grand Duke," are available for first time in the United States, in their very best possible quality, one of KINO's guaranteed trademarks.

The first film, "Faust" (1926), is, perhaps, the most confusing, due to the complexity of the plot. It's about an alchemist, who is a subject of a bet between an angel and the devil, in which a town is infected by the plague (delivered by the devil himself), and the devil convinces Faust that he would cure all the people in exchange of his soul. It stars Emil Jennings, who majestically plays Mephisto, in an unforgettable performance. If you recall, Jannings won the very first Best Actor Academy Award for his work in two US-made films, "The Last Command" (1928) and "The Way of All Flesh" (1927). In "Faust," you will see Janning's captivating power as an actor, and why Murnau used him in many of his films. Unfortunately, Jannings was a willing supporter of the Nazis, which eventually led to his subsequent ban and disappearance from cinema. The film is also loaded with special effects, which still hold their own in current times. This mesmerizing DVD also includes a new musical score, a new piano score (adapted from the 1926 original arrangement), lost screen footage of Ernst Lubitsch's abandoned 1923 production of "Faust" and "Marguerite," essay by film historian Jan Christopher Horak, and much more.

The next film, "The Haunted Castle" (1921), follows a different pattern in narrative, because it is divided in acts - five, to be precise. Most of the story takes place inside the Vogelöd Castle, during a fall hunt, which, unfortunately, was ruined by unstoppable raining days. This unexpected situation forces the guests to spend much of their time inside the castle. The disappearance of a priest brings about distrust within the guests, and it unravels an old crime that involves one of the attendees. In this film, Murnau experiments with horror and suspense, spiked with clever humor. The DVD also features a gallery of set design paintings by Robert Herlth, as well as excerpts of Rudolf Stratz' novel, which inspired the movie.

On the other hand, in "The Finances of the Grand Duke" (1924) Murnau presents a witty comedy, with a subliminal political message. It takes place on the Grand Dukedom of Abacco, an island, "perhaps in the Mediterranean,", which is ruled by the benevolent dictator Roman XXII (Harry Liedtke). Roman is not good with money, and his country is in debt, most of it to a shadowy entrepreneur named Matcowitz. Word about his financial problems goes out, and Roman finds himself very vulnerable for an overthrow, which comes in the form of four conspirators: a dangerous one, a sinister one, a hunchback, and an ambitious one. However, help is on the way by means of Olga (Mady Christians), a beautiful Russian princess. All these characters provide for a memorable comedy, which includes a lot of written dialogue, in comparison to the other films in this collection, all of which are silent. This DVD features audio commentary by film historian David Kalat.

"The Last Laugh" (1924) is a study about the human condition, which is based on Nicolai Gogol's "The Coat," where the author examines the disproportionate importance given to uniforms. The film stars Emil Jannings as an aging building concierge. He is gentle and noble, proud of his work. Because of his impressive military-looking uniform, he is widely respected, especially when he returns home everyday to his neighborhood. However, due to his advanced age, frailty, and, in some degree, bad luck, he is demoted to a job in the men's restroom. Loosing his concierge uniform demolishes him and he hides the truth to his daughter, family, and friends. It is humiliation that breaks his heart. However, he doesn't realize that there is something else in store for him. Emil Jannings once again triumphs playing the main role - it really touches you. "The Last Laugh," in addition of being a great movie, is also part of Murnau's exploration of the language of cinema. In this case, the movie has no dialogue, and it delivers in every sense. The city landscape, provided by Karl Freund's brilliant cinematography, is just awesome. The DVD also presents the documentary "The Making of the Last Laugh," and more.

Next we have "Nosferatu" (1922), a classic of horror cinema, based on the novel "Dracula," by Bram Stoker. Max Schreck plays Count Orlok, from Transylvania, who is planning to buy a house in Wisburg. For this purpose, Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim), a real state agent, is sent to Orlok's house in Transylvania, in order that he can complete the transaction. Never in his mind did Hutter imagine that he was going to meet a vampire. Once Orlok moves to Wisburg, chaos takes over, and Hutter's wife will play a significant role. This is perhaps Murnau's most famous and known film, which is unfortunate, because most of his other movies are equally brilliant. It was also his first success. But "Nosferatu" has justifiable survived the test of time as a landmark in the cinema of horror. This DVD is loaded with great extras, such as the documentaries "The Language of Shadows: The Early Years and Nosferatu" and "Nosferatu: An historic film meets digital," as well as excerpts from other films by Murnau

Lastly, the DVD set also includes Moliere's "Tartuffe" (1925), which begins by telling us that great is the number of hypocrites on earth and many one the forms of which they appear...! Many a time we unsuspectingly sit next to them." These sentences set the tone for the film, in which a caretaker slowly poisons an old man, in order that she can inherit his fortune. She convinces him that his son doesn't care about him. In the same vein, and continuing his examination on greed, there is also a story about a happily married man who is giving away his money to Tartuffe, a thief disguised as a highly religious man of wisdom, who happens to be a guest as his house. The wife tries by all means to convince her husband that he is being used. Emil Jannings shines again in the role of Tartuffe. The DVD also contains the documentary "The Way to Murnau," about the life and films of the legendary director.

"Murnau" is a must-have, a treasure for collectors and movie enthusiasts alike. The films included represent the work of an icon of cinema that had so much to offer and had a great understanding of its language. Murnau could easily make drama, comedy, horror, or any of these combined, always generating successful stories. In fact, some say that "Sunrise" (1927), one of the films that he made in the United States, may be the finest silent film ever. The movies that comprise this magnificent box set provide convincing evidence of the Murnau's grandeur. (Faust: Germany, 1926, B&W 106 min plus additional materials; The Haunted Castle: Germany, 1921, color tinted, 81 min; The Finances of the Grand Duke, Germany, 1924, color tinted, 77 min; The Last Laugh: Germany, 1924, B&W, 90 min plus additional materials; Nosferatu: Germany, 1922, color tinted, 94 min plus additional materials; Tartuffe: Germany, 1925, color tinted, 63 min plus additional materials)

Reviewed on December 14, 2009 by senior writer Eric Gonzalez for [...]
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Rate This High....but March 20 2009
By jrc - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is a great set. The transfers are for the most part, newly restored. Kino had earlier released two-disc ultimate editions of NOSFERATU and THE LAST LAUGH. In this set, you only get one disc for these titles, but with basically the same extras as the "ultimate" releases. On the two-disc editions, they gave you foreign release versions of NOSFERATU and THE LAST LAUGH, not available here. Those versions use some alternative takes and include some other differences. For the completist, the two disc ultimate editions still have a place in your collection. For the casual collector, this set is more than adequate.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murnau gets his due, again June 19 2009
By Michael Giltz - Published on Amazon.com
Surely the last laugh is being had by F.W. Murnau, whose stature keeps rising as his movies are restored. Hot on the heels of the gigantic boxed set Murnau, Borsage and Fox comes this 6 DVD set Murnau ($99.95; Kino) with exemplary renditions of classics like Faust (a new edition), previously released Nosferatu, The Last Laugh and Tartuffe plus two new films The Haunted Castle and a romantic comedy (!) The Finances Of The Grand Duke. Why Tabu isn't included is a mystery probably explained by rights lapsing or some such thing. If you don't own any, this is essential and you can be certain that all of the titles are lovingly restored and offered with bountiful extras. I can't quite wrap my head around a romance by Murnau, but the "old dark house" genre of The Haunted Castle is a natural for him and I've never seen his Faust. If you bought earlier Murnau boxed sets, rest assured that those three are also available on their own. Visit me at michaelgiltz dot com.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Silent Film Collection Feb. 13 2014
By VictoriaSage - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
A fantastic selection of silent film masterpieces by F.W Murnau. Excellent direction and set design, and superb acting performances from Emil Jannings
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