Over the years I’ve watched a half-dozen versions of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu in theaters and on VHS, laserdisc, and DVD. Sad to say, they’ve looked uniformly crummy, even those touted as ”restored.” The available prints of Murnau’s ’20s horror masterpiece show their age with scratches, jerky cuts, and annoying flickering frames. But Kino’s glorious new restoration eliminates all those distractions — a three-minute featurette explains how — allowing us to see this silent granddaddy of all vampire movies as if for the first time. Quite simply, it’s miraculous. The clarity and stability of the image unleash the director’s precise framing, painterly lighting, and adroit editing, which delicately links characters to one another as the vampire casts his hideous spells. The lack of visual clutter also enhances the performances, particularly Max Schreck’s Orlok; always the creepiest of vampire turns, his clawed otherworldliness is now truly horrific. Bravo also for this edition’s re-creation of composer Hans Erdmann’s lush orchestral score. In addition to a version with German intertitles, the two-disc set includes a lengthy doc about Nosferatu’s creation. It’s fine, but what really counts is the splendid, long-overdue face-lift of a sagging classic. A
Genre: Horror; Starring: Max Schreck; Director: F.W. Murnau; Runtime (in minutes): 94; MPAA Rating: Unrated
Posted November 26 2007 — 12:00 AM EST
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