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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Which Version Should You Buy?
There are a number of versions of the original Murnau film "Nosferatu" floating around out there, and as a big fan of the film, I've bought most of them and will discuss them so that you don't have to waste time and money trying to decide which to buy. Unfortunately, I am only going to compare the current DVD releases however, and only those in my part of the globe -...
Published on June 13 2003 by E. Dolnack

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The film speed is STILL not right!
What can I say? European Silent film speed is 15 frames per second, not 18 as was in America, nor 20 because it's convenient to produce a DVD that way. My version of Nosferatu on VHS is 106 minutes long, with no additional material than other versions; and except where Murnau explicitly wanted supernatural speed, all the actors movements appear absolutely natural,...
Published on Feb. 5 2003


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Which Version Should You Buy?, June 13 2003
By 
E. Dolnack (Atlanta, GA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
There are a number of versions of the original Murnau film "Nosferatu" floating around out there, and as a big fan of the film, I've bought most of them and will discuss them so that you don't have to waste time and money trying to decide which to buy. Unfortunately, I am only going to compare the current DVD releases however, and only those in my part of the globe - Region 1. By all means, avoid the embarrassingly bad VHS version with the modern score by "Type-O-Negative".
This is a black & white silent film for those who don't know. Sound wasn't invented for another five years after this film was made and color wasn't introduced for another ten to twelve after that. Bram Stoker's widow successfully had most copies of this film destroyed by infringement of copyright during the twenties, so the few existing prints today are sadly in poor condition. Most films in the silent era were color-tinted, and rarely viewed as pure black & white (so don't put all the blame on Ted Turner for starting that trend). As there was no soundtrack in those days, live orchestras performed the music behind the film. Today, if the original score is not known, (as is the case with Nosferatu), then we try and "fake it" with a modern composition recorded onto the cassette, laserdisc, or DVD. Some modern scores are fitting and appropriate, while others just stink (such as the Type-O-Negative score). The other problem with older films is that projectors weren't standardized yet, so people produced films at all sorts of different "running speeds". Today, all film is photographed at 24 frames a second, but back then it was 20, 18, 30, whatever...this is why many films of that era, when translated to present day film, run speedy like a bad episode of the "Keystone Cops".
Basically, there are only two DVD versions available that you should consider if you are at all serious about adding this legendary classic to your home collection.
First, there's the IMAGE Entertainment version, which has two musical scores: one score is kind of lame and silly, while the second organ score is the better of the two. The DVD in tinted brightly as well. The real gem on this version is an outstanding commentary soundtrack by a German film expert that is so educational.
Second, is the best version available, which is produced by Kino. This version has the sharper picture, a slightly better running speed and contains a few scenes not seen in other version (Kino's is also the longest running version available). The Kino version also comes with two scores. The first score is my favorite available and would be perfect if not for a few "vocal" improvisations of a woman gasping when the actress onscreen is scared. It's embarrassing and cheezy. The second score is a completely inappropriate "techno" version that sounds more like a cheap Nine-Inch-Nails rip-off and doesn't fit the film at all. (I don't understand why people insist on giving this film a modern musical score to emphasize it's horror aspects when all they do is demean it). The Kino version sadly does not have a commentary track or it would be perfect. The Kino version is also color-tinted. I would personally like to see a version without color-tinting as I just find that annoying.
But as of this date, June 2003, the Kino version of the original 1922 Nosferatu is the one to buy. But if you want the wonderful commentary soundtrack, then go with the IMAGE Entertainment version instead.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Regarding the Alpha, Image, and Kino DVD Versions, June 6 2004
By 
This review is from: Nosferatu (Silent) (DVD)
Of course this is a haunting film, certainly on everyone's short list of the greatest silent films in history. But which version to buy?
The Alpha Video DVD, like all of their silent DVDs, has an appallingly poor video transfer. You can watch it, but you wouldn't want to if you didn't have to. It seems like all of Alpha's old films are too dark on the left, and too bright on the right. When a character wanders to the left of the screen, he disappears, when he goes to the right, he is almost washed out. Intertitles can only be read clearly from the middle to the right margin. All the figures are grainy, like you need to adjust the sharpness, but can't. I could only recommend a Alpha Video silent DVD if absolutely no other option is available. I am a cheap guy who loves a good deal, but I think Amazon should seriously consider whether or not to even sell their shoddy products.
The Image Entertainment has by far the best looking cover and artwork, as I find they do for most of their products (compare their cover for The Thief of Baghdad with Kino's). But the soundtrack options are quite poor on Nosferatu, and are nearly as distracting to a proper enjoyment of the film as Alpha Video's terrible image quality.
The current winner for Nosferatu is certainly the Kino version. The image quality equals the Image Entertainment version, but the music is much better. Its not a long shot, however, as the cover art is inferior to Image's. And I still agree with the reviewer who wrote that all of these versions are running too fast. IMDB lists the running time as 94 minutes, but all of three of these versions clock in just over 80 minutes (10% too fast?).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly frightening, May 24 2004
By 
Jeffrey Leach (Omaha, NE USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
It always surprises me when I suddenly notice there are horror films I should have seen years ago but am only seeing for the first time now. F.W. Murnau's 1922 classic take on the vampire legend, "Nosferatu" is one of these films. What horror film fan would not take some time to watch this legendary creation? Well, me for one. I put it off for years due to my general dislike of the vampire sub genre. You can only take so many debonair duffers tooling around a castle sinking their fangs into the throats of girls before you give up in frustration. A few vampire films I like, such as "Fright Night," but as a general rule I can leave them more often than I can take them. It only took a few minutes of "Nosferatu" to discover this film wasn't going to be the type of vampire film I am used to seeing. You won't see a Frank Langella or Christopher Lee type playing the lead bloodsucker in this disturbing movie. One look at the hideous visage on the DVD cover provides ample evidence that the vampire in this movie won't wow the ladies with his good looks or suave charm. The vampire in "Nosferatu" is exactly how a vampire should look.
Set in Germany back in the nineteenth century, "Nosferatu" tells the horrific tale of an entire town stricken by the evil machinations of the rat-like Count Orlok, a truly sinister figure both loathsome and repellent. After a real estate agent named Knock sells the count his property, he falls under the spell of its gruesome tenant. The agent wants Orlok to come to Bremen, so he sends his assistant Hutter out to the castle. Harker's virginal wife Ellen objects to the sudden departure of her husband, but knows he must fulfill the obligations of his job. The scenes involving the trip to Orlok's pad and Hutter's subsequent stay are masterpieces of ominous foreshadowing. Animals bolt in panic as the coach nears the castle, the villagers fall silent when Hutter mentions Orlok, and his driver adamantly refuses to take the assistant to the castle. The count sends his own coach, an unusual device that moves supernaturally thanks to Murnau's use of fast motion photography. Obviously, strange things are afoot even before the vampire goes on his rampage.
Hutter falls prey to Orlok during his stay at the castle, but manages to escape and head back to Bremen to warn the town. His wife, in the meantime, suffers strange dreams and hallucinations that foreshadow her own encounter with the vampire. Knock goes off his rocker, and is institutionalized at the local jail. As for Orlok, he boards a vessel and heads to Bremen and a meeting with Hutter's virgin bride. The scenes on the ship are masterfully chilly. The count hides in a coffin in the hold of the ship, rising to feast on the unwary sailors. His movements on the boat, often accompanied by dozens of rats, nauseates even as it fascinates the viewer. By the time the movie reached this point, I couldn't think of a horror film character more hideous or repulsive than Orlok. When the ship reaches port, doctors fear a plague has killed the crew. They are partially right. A plague has reached town, but one these doctors have never seen before. Before long, townspeople start to drop like flies as Orlok pounds the cobblestones at night looking for Hutter's wife. The conclusion to the film involves no stakes, no holy water or crucifixes, but a good old fashioned German girl using her purity to destroy evil. I'll leave it you to see how she does it.
"Nosferatu" is a classic because a perceptive viewer can see so many themes in it. Is it a movie about sexuality, or Weimer politics, or a foreshadowing of the National Socialists? I'd like to promote a view of the movie I haven't seen yet (although it may be out there somewhere). I couldn't help but see a lot of potential anti-Semitic themes playing out in the movie. Orlok's physical presence resembles in no small way the depictions of Jews that often appeared in Germany even before the Third Reich rose to power. Associating the count with rats and plague is similar to how the Jews were portrayed in notorious anti-Semitic propaganda. I think, too, that the encrypted letter the count sent to Knock underscored what many Germans thought about Jews, that they communicated in esoteric languages and practiced a strange religion. Orlok, when he arrives in Germany, is an outsider, a dangerous foreigner seeking to kill and corrupt the good German people. Again, the Jews were always seen as outsiders with a hidden hostility to gentiles. The conclusion of the film only confirmed this thesis in my eyes, when a pure German woman using her wiles managed to defeat the evil count. Germans always worried about Jews marrying their women, so the idea that a girl could not only withstand the advances of the count but also use his lust to destroy him must have resonated deeply with certain segments of the audience. I could go on and on, matching certain scenes with how many Germans perceived the Jews.
I hope the film isn't anti-Semitic. But as a horror film, it is unmatched. Murnau's technical experimentation along with Max Schreck's portrayal of Orlok make this film a must see for horror fans. The DVD is good too, with a ton of extras. You get extensive liner notes on location sights, notes on Murnau's influences, still galleries, several different soundtracks, and a commentary track from a film historian. The quality of the picture transfer didn't look too good, but the movie is over eighty years old. If you haven't seen "Nosferatu" yet, you're missing out on a great experience.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites, but definately get the Kino version., July 24 2008
By 
KrismarieD "Krissy" (Nova Scotia, Canada) - See all my reviews
This movie, as most people probably know already, is about a vampire, much like the Dracula novel, which it was based on. There are huge differences between Dracula and Nosferatu, however; Nosferatu is not this charming, cape-wearing, handsome villain who oozes sex appeal. He's bald, hunched-over, with pointed ears and strange rodent-teeth.
You arn't meant to be attracted to him, you're meant to fear him. And when he travels in the movie, he doesn't go alone; he brings plague rats with him.
I love this movie. It's not so much scary as creepy, though I did get genuinely frightened during one of the castle scenes with him. Most of the movie plays on atmosphere, and the music, which is a good reason to get the Kino version, as the music is actually GOOD, compared to most versions of this film.
I never found this film boring, but I can see how others might find it so at first. You can't watch this movie expecting a modern day movie sans talking. The shooting style is different, the acting style different. Like I said above, it's not shock-style fear being created; is drawn-out, atmospheric creepiness.
And the acting you see isn't over-acting; it's the only way to really convey an emotion in a silent film.
Sorry, I'm rambling. All I can really end up saying is that I liked it. I loved it, actually. But an IMPORTANT final note; sound isn't the only reason to get the Kino version. The transfer is so clear, you forgot it's in black and white. It is more expensive, but definately worth it. Most other versions just arn't worth seeing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, May 17 2006
By A Customer
I originally bought this simply for my intellectual appreciation for silent films, but I found that I truly enjoyed it. The primitive special effects add to the creepiness of this movie, such as the choppy stop-motion sequences in which a coffin lid moves itself into place, and the fast-forward way a horse and carriage moves through the woods. Also notable is the excellent organ music that adds a real ambiance. This is perfect for a classic halloween viewing. I abolutely loved it. My only complaint is that the guy on the directors cut has THE most boring voice. But all in all an excellent film
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy Atmospheric Classic, July 2 2004
By 
Polkadotty (Mountains of Western North Carolina) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nosferatu (DVD)
I recall seeing this film as a child, around the age of 9 or so, and being scared witless by Max Schreck's Count Orlok. Schreck's vampyre still remains ultra creepy ~ those long, clawlike hands, those deepset eyes, those scraggly sharp teeth ~ and perhaps my favorite incarnation of the bloodsucking undead. The photography of the Carpathian countryside is breathtaking, adding authentic atmosphere to the setting. You are, actually, 'there'. The special effects are also impressive for the time, and the tinting of the film, I believe, is original. Many silent films were tinted: blue for night, red for danger, sepia or orange for bright day, green for other effects. I make a plug for Greta Schroeder, who did an admirable job of pacing distractedly, filled with awful foreboding. I was quite satisified with the choice of soundtracks on the DVD, and my 17-year-old son had a blast switching between them as the mood struck. You ought to see this at least once ~ it's the one that started them all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nosferatu - Special Edition, June 7 2004
Nosferatu is definetly a classic film ; not only in the genre but also out of all movies.This was the first Silent film I've ever seen.And I was suprised that it actually held my attention.Count Orlock (The Vampire) was extremely chilly and haunting.The music was also well composed.I've heard there are many versions of the film so I think I've seen a very good one.It is a very dark haunting story.The castles and Carpathians add to the mood that was set for the film.I've also heard that there was a big lawsuit that Bram Stoker's wife made against the maker.This is a truly deep and intriguing movie for it's time and quality.Make sure to check it out.F.W. Murnau's German silent classic is the original--and some say most frightening--DRACULA adaptation, taking Bram Stoker's novel and turning it into a haunting, shadowy dream full of dread. Names had to be changed from the novel when Stoker's wife charged his novel was being filmed without proper permission. Running times vary depending upon versions of the film. Count Orlok, the rodentlike vampire frighteningly portrayed by Max Schreck, is perhaps the most animalistic screen portrayal of a vampire ever filmed. The design was copied by Werner Herzog in his 1979 remake and by Tobe Hooper for his telefilm of Stephen King's SALEM'S LOT that same year. NOSFERATU is an eerie, menacing film that should not be missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Horror---Different Vampire, April 27 2004
This review is from: Nosferatu [Import] (DVD)
if youre looking for the stereotypical Count Dracula, look elseware. this is the original Count. does Nosferatu mean vampire in German? or is it Draculas first name? how exactly do you pronounce it---nose-FAIR-uh-too? nose-fur-AH-tu? who cares! this is the original 1922 vampire film! im not sure which version on Amazon has the original 1922 musical score, but this one, sadly enough, doesnt(so says the opening credits). is this film creepy? YES. is this film scary? NO. does this film inspire everyone to sharpen their ears, grow their fingernails several inches, lengthen their nose, grow sharp front teeth, wear long over-coats, sleep in a dirt-filled coffin, and only wake up at night? YES. i thought it was a little cheasy and ghost-like for Nosferatu to be able to transport himself through walls and dissappear from anywhere. and i also thought the film was so good it shouldve been longer than 66 minutes. but does that stop it from being the best vampire film out there? NO. i would like to pick up a copy of The Book Of Vampires (as seen in the movie). this film is better than any modern horror film. one sad thing is that it has a happy ending (the vampire loses). okay, that part sucked, but for all the rest of this movie---buy it! its worth even more than the few dollars Amazon charges.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Original and the Best!, April 22 2004
This review is from: Nosferatu (DVD)
This is the film that got me interested in silent films and it's still one of my most favourites. No matter how often I watch it, I'm always struck by the effectiveness of the film: the characters, make-up, movements and some special effects which, compared to modern films may seem very primitive and crude, but when used at the right time, however, create the perfect effect. There is also the simple matter of how Max Schreck, who plays the vampire, walks or stands, and being very tall and thin, wearing a sinister black coat, it's enough to already give you the creeps!
For novices to silent films I'd like to say that this film has much more depths that one might think, and you have to read the intertitles carefully to get the background or in-depth meanings that are intended. I got much more out of the film after the second and third viewing and paying attention to both the intertitles and other details, such as how Ellen was under Nosferatu's spell from a distance, and sensed when her husband was in mortal danger in Nosferatu's castle. There is also the interesting correlation between Nosferatu's presence and the Plague, and until science proved otherwise, people back then did believe that illnesses, especially a plague, were caused by evil, sinister beings.
For anyone who likes a film they can get their teeth into (pardon the pun) even if not a vampire/horror fan, this is a good one! And as far as silent films go, definitely also in the "classics" department and a must-have in your collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gothic Feast, March 15 2004
By 
Alex (Cincinnati, OH) - See all my reviews
Teutonic glory, theology, and spirituality come together in a brilliant silent black and white cinematographic feast in director F.W. Murnau's 1929 American release of Nosferatu. Thirteen minutes shorter than the original German release seven years earlier, the United States edition titillates with sexuality, political metaphors and supernatural evil.
The film parallels Bram Stoker's Dracula, a popular and provocative book released in Nineteenth Century Victorian Britain. Due to copy right concerns Henrik Galeen re-wrote the basic plot making Dracula into Count Orlok (Max Schreck) who purchases property in Wisborg, Germany, not England as in the novel.
At the time of the film's release it spooked American movie goers with sensual evil. Yet hindsight suggests that Germans were also given a political message. In post World War I the defeated country was forced to pay oppressive reparations making malnutrition, political chaos, and personal bankruptcy common. Nosferatu depicts the greed of victorious France, Britain, and the United States in the form of Count Orlok. Plague infested rats are associated with the vampire invading a "virgin" territory.
The virgin (Greta Schroder) is wife of the happy-go-lucky imbecile real estate agent (Alexander Granach) who sold the Count his property. The real estate agent's wife, whom Orlok becomes obsessed with, is a "sinless maiden." There is an implication that the marriage was never consummated. The husband represents the inept post-war German government that allowed the country to be defiled by foreign "rats." She has premonitions of the pending darkness on its way to Wisborg. There is a fatal inevitability of what must be done. She eventually martyrs herself for the greater good by submitting to the vampire's lust.
A predestination theme weaves its way throughout the film. "Do not hurry my friend," the real estate agent is told by a town official earlier as he prepares to meet Count Orlok. "No one can escape his destiny."
Do any of us actually have free choice in the final analysis? Doesn't God know all there is about our life before we are even conceived? Hence, is it a false illusion to think that choices can actually influence the final outcome? Did the martyred virgin have a choice or was it her destiny? Often we think to ourselves that "things happen for a reason" suggesting that certain things are indeed beyond our control.

Orlok's prolonged feeding on the virgin one evening makes him lose track of time. The morning sun - like the early raise of Easter Sunday - destroys him. Germany is offered a re-birth. Ironically, there is no foretelling of the new monster named Hitler that would soon arrive on Germain soil. Is death, re-birth, and death again that leads to a higher form of re-birth all necessary in the universal order of things and, hence, preordained?
Unlike Stoker's novel, there isn't an overt use of crosses, holy water, or the Eucharist to assist in killing Nosferatu. Instead, a woman's purity is used to lure and kill the creature. There is one subtle, but important religious reference. The real estate agent, prior to selling the vampire a castle, stays overnight at an inn. In his room is an icon of the Blessed Mother and a lit, hanging vigil candle before it. It's a powerful symbol that frames the entire film.
Over time, Marian images, sightings, and devotionals have increasingly interested me. In the Eastern Rite, Mary is often called upon as an intercessor of our souls. In the film there is a clear draw on the Marian cult. The film's virgin must be the intercessor for her community. Similar to Mary, the virgin, a Teutonic like Valkyrie, is both intercessor and preordained to make a sacrifice - the former her son the latter her life. This is an important theological theme, independent of eerie, stunning cinematography, that remains most memorable in the film.
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Nosferatu
Nosferatu by F.W. Murnau (DVD - 2004)
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