Friday, 20 November 2015

Nosferatu (1922)

Everyone's favourite 1922 unofficial silent movie version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula gets a wash and brush up courtesy of the BFI in this sparkling (but not in a TWILIGHT way, oh no) new Blu-ray release.

Spidery Count Orlok (Max Schreck) travels from his crumbly old castle in Transylvania to Wisbourg in Germany after putting the willies up estate agent Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim), zeroing in on a picture of his girlfriend Ellen (Great Schroder) while Hutter is still a guest in his lovely home, and generally causing mayhem on the boat on the trip across. When he gets to Wisbourg our bat-eared vampire with spiky fingers anticipates drinking Ellen's blood, but instead she tricks him into staying with her until dawn and he vanishes in a puff of 1920s frame dissolves.

NOSFERATU is a classic and anyone who hasn't seen it should, even though they'll probably discover they've already seen much of it in music videos, comedy shows, and anything else that has plundered its public domain print over the years. In fact, clips and images from NOSFERATU are so prevalent in our society that it's hard to believe now that at the time of its release all prints were ordered to be destroyed. A triumph of artistic integrity over the legal system, or the original rip-off of an originally uncredited and unpaid author’s work? That’s up to you to decide. 

The BFI's Blu-ray gets NOSFERATU looking as good as it is probably ever going to. The film exists on DVD with a number of different accompanying musical soundtracks. Here we have the score James Bernard was commissioned to write and very good it is too. We also get some fascinating extras in the form of a couple of short films (Percy Stow's THE MISTLETOE BOUGH - an 8 minute ghost story from 1904, and Jean Painleve's LE VAMPIRE - a 1945 short Nazism allegory) as well as Christopher Frayling's 24 minute video essay on the film. You also get an image gallery that includes original production drawings, stills and design for publicity materials, and a booklet with new writing on the film and its 'occultist origins'.

The BFI is releasing F W Murnau's NOSFERATU on Blu-ray on the 23rd November 2015


  1. So glad to hear that the James Bernard score will be released on Blu. A masterful work that un-like the awful, Added score to the 1931 Dracula, the Bernard score echoes back to the finest of his Hammer compositions. Can't wait to see and hear this version. Bravo BFI!.

  2. Another no brainer , I'll definitely be adding this classic film to my Blu Ray collection , it's a must buy , and I agree that the James Bernard score is a great addition to the antics of the spindly Count Orlok!

  3. The Bernard score sounds especially fabulous on this version!