My transition from a kid who really liked going to the movies to a full-blown cineaste was long and slow. In junior high the opening credits of To Kill a Mockingbird showed me how beautiful a movie could be. The rest of the film was both beautiful and extraordinarily moving. A little later, Night of the Living Dead proved to me that even a horror movie could be artful. Over time, movies became more than just an entertaining diversion, but genuine Art with a capitol A.
Late in high school. I caught the last ten minutes or so of Nosferatu. It was the long scene at the end where the vampire is slowly moving towards the lady's bedroom, then creeps in for the kill. I'd never seen anything like it. Max Shreck's vampire with his talon-like fingers, bald head, and pointed ears scared the living crap out of me. The weird camera angles and lighting with its massive, moody shadows was utterly gorgeous, disturbing and frightening. It was the most beautiful and mesmerizing thing I'd ever seen in a film.
It was a long time before I even knew what it was, but that scene stayed in my mind and even though I'd not yet seen the rest of the movie, I ranked it up with the best of cinema. It was even longer before I finally did get to see the entire film. I rented it one night in college and sat through it spellbound. I wasn't much for silent films then (still not, if I'm telling the truth), but I couldn't take my eyes off of Nosferatu. I've seen hundreds of films since then but it still stands right up there with my all-time favorites.
Being in the public domain, the film has seen multiple DVD releases, most of them being from fly-by-night organizations out to make a quick buck and thus the transfers have been awful. Kino Classics is releasing this new Blu-ray transfer and that's a company you can count on. It comes with two versions of the movie (one with German intertitles, the other with English.) There's also the original score by Hans Erdmann in both 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo plus a 52-minute documentary chronicling the early career of director F.W. Murnau. Plus, a photo gallery and clips from other Murnau films.
Sadly it does not come with the audio commentary from David Kalat, which has been included in other releases, but otherwise this release looks stellar.
Nosferatu is a classic and a treasure. It helped me understand that movies can be true works of art as a young man and for that reason and many more it is my Pick of the Week.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Man of Steel: I'm not a huge comic book movie fan, and Superman is one of the less interesting superheros to me. Still, Zack Snyder's reboot of the Man of Steel is intriguing. It comes in a variety of packages including Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital copy deals, collector's editions with cute little figurines, and some more basic ones.
JFK 50 Year Commemorative Ultimate Collector's Edition: It has been 50 years since JFK was assassinated. There are lots of documentaries and such coming out about the murdered President, and likely your TV is going to be flooded with memorials soon. Oliver Stones' controversial and brilliant take on who really committed the murder is getting a big old set as well. I don't buy much of the conspiracies behind the film, but I love the way Stone put it together. This set includes some collectibles including a 32-page quotations book, a reproduction of the inaugural address, and campaign poster. Plus, a photo book and character cards.
Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition: The landmark anime gets a Blu-ray upgrade. Special features include an interview with the director, sound-clip/storyboard collections, original trailers and commercials, a glossary, and several features on the film and its restoration.
Dexter: The Complete and Final Season: I gave up on this show about midway through the second season. But I have lots of friends who loved it until the end.
Frances Ha (Criterion Blu-ray): Noah Baumbach's relatively new film gets the full Criterion treatment.
City Lights (Criterion Blu-ray): I mentioned earlier my resistance to silent films. I make an exception for Charlie Chaplin, who is hilarious even without talking.
Sweet Summer Sun - Hyde Park Live: The Rolling Stones did a big tour to celebrate their 50 years as a band. This one got recorded and now is getting released. I love me some Stones, but if I'm gonna sit down for one of their videos, I'm gonna pick an earlier year.
You can tell we are moving into the Christmas season because loads of television shows are coming out with complete series collections. These include My Mother the Car, Dexter, Diagnosis Murder, Family Ties, Mod Squad and Cagney & Lacey.