Nosferatu: back on Blu-ray

Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu (1922)

Name: Nosferatu.

Age: 93 years young.

Remind me which one that is? Oh come on. Nosferatu is a classic – FW Murnau’s free-floating Dracula adaptation is one of scariest films of all time, and one of the most beautiful too.

Is that the one with hunchbacked shadow lurching up the stairs? Bingo.

Surely it’s not still hanging around? Nosferatu is back baby, and now it’s on Blu-ray too, courtesy of a new release from the BFI.

Oh, Nosferatu on Blu-ray? I got that already. Really?

Well, no. I saw that Masters of Cinema brought it out two years ago but I hadn’t got around to buying it yet. Ah I thought so. Well you could buy this version instead.

Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu (1922)

I might. Both releases are Blu-ray updates of each label’s previous DVD release of the film.

I’m all about Blu-ray. What’s the difference between the two packages though? The extras are different, and the score. MoC used the original theatrical score, and the BFI has used a more modern, but also orchestral, score by James Bernard. And yes, both are available in stereo and 5.1.

Same film, right? Well, yes, but a different restoration. This one is by Photoplay and the BFI.

OK so one looks great, the other is in tatters. No. They’re both clean, and vividly tinted, with just enough grain to look livelier than Max Schreck tilting out of his coffin. High-definition horror whichever way you look at it.

This is complicated. You’re telling me. We reviewed the MoC release in 2013 and said it was a “precious object”, but this is a pretty impressive package too.

What do we get on this one then? There’s a video essay by Christopher Grayling (that was on the DVD) and a gallery of production designs.

Who looks at image galleries on Blu-rays? Search me. But they’re very nice. and there’s more: a booklet of essays and notes on the film and two more short films.

Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu (1922)

Now you’re talking. Yes. It would have been nice to have a commentary track (the MoC Blu has two), but the short films here are well chosen. There’s Jean Painlevé’s 1945 Nazi allegory Le Vampire, and a British ghost story directed by Percy Stow called The Mistletoe Bough (1904).

Nice. Yes, and what I particularly like is the score for The Mistletoe Bough – it’s ever so nifty, and it’s by Pete Wiggs from Saint Etienne.

Not a “symphony of horrors” then. No, but I see what you did there.

Do say: “More Murnau please.”

Don’t say: “I think I’ll wait for the remake.”

  • Nosferatu is released on Blu-ray by the BFI on 23 November 2015, priced £19.99. You can order a copy here.
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5 thoughts on “Nosferatu: back on Blu-ray”

  1. Lovely piece. A word of love for the remake. Herzog used Murnau for inspiration and, to my mind, created a beautiful companion piece to the silent. Well worth a watch.

  2. We saw this one last Halloween accompanied by The Mighty Wurlitzer at our favorite silent venue.
    My favorite scene was when the shadow of his long creepy fingers were shown clutching someone’s heart.

    As with all the high melodrama, the movie illicited a few laughs from the audience at times that would have horrified the director.

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