Nosferatu: History and Home Video Guide, Part 2

1920s Screenings and Die zwölfte Stunde (1930)

  • Every known première and early screening of the vampire film that refused to die
  • Even legal action from the widow of Dracula’s author couldn’t halt the spread of its deadly virus
  • The budget for Nosferatu‘s lavish world première was greater than that for the film itself
  • Like fellow silent classic The Phantom of the Opera, in 1930 it was reshot, recut and reissued in sound

This series of articles covers everything Graf Orlok and is designed to be read sequentially. They detail the film’s history, many different versions and home video releases, and I suggest you start reading from Part 1, unless you want to skip straight to the restored DVD and Blu-ray reviews.

Nosferatu (1922) German poster by Albin Grau

Nosferatu (1922) German poster by Albin Grau


Contents


1920s screenings

Germany

Zoologischer Garten, Berlin - Der Marmorsaal im Zoo

Der Marmorsaal im Zoo, the venue for Nosferatu’s gala première

Original version: 35mm, 1:1.33, five acts, 1,967m (106mins at 16fps)
Censorship: 16.12.1921, no. B 4960, Jv. prohibited for children

  • Gala première: 4.3.1922 as Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, Berlin Der Marmorsaal (Marble Hall). Hans Erdmann orchestral score
  • Theatrical première: 15.3.1922, Berlin Primus-Palast. Score as above.

Update: evidence has emerged of even earlier screenings in Holland the previous month. If you have more info, please get in touch.

Nosferatu (1922) Film-Kurier magazine advert

Nosferatu (1922) première, Film-Kurier magazine advert

Nosferatu (1922) magazine advert

Nosferatu (1922) première, magazine advert

Nosferatu had a high profile advertising campaign in the run-up to its gala première, which was billed as “The Festival of Nosferatu”. One scene-setter was an extravagant promotional spread in issue no. 21 of the journal Bühne und Film[1] (Stage and Film; note there were at least two identically titled Filmprogrammen being published around this time). It consisted of adverts, production stills, a synopsis of the film, and various essays including a highly fanciful yarn by Albin Grau on a supposed real-life vampire who served as the inspiration for the story. Grau’s essay, simply entitled Vampir, has been translated to English for the booklet in various Eureka/Masters of Cinema releases from 2007 onwards.

“Das Fest des Nosferatu” took place on 4th March 1922, in the opulent splendour of Der Marmorsaal in Berlin’s Zoological Gardens. Those present included potential distributors and several notable Berlin filmmakers, such as Ernst Lubitsch and his frequent collaborator Hanns Kräly, alongside the likes of Richard Oswald, Heinz Schall and Johannes Riemann. The festivities commenced at 8pm with an introduction by Graf Orlok himself, actor Max Schreck. Next, immediately preceding the screening, was the curtain raiser, a projected, written prologue by Kurt Alexander, based on the premise of the “Prelude in the Theatre” which commonly introduces stagings of Goethe’s Faust. Over this, the Otto Kermbach Orchestra played the overture to Heinrich Marschner’s Romantic opera, Der Vampyr (1826). During the screening itself, the orchestra was conducted by Hans Erdmann to his specially composed accompaniment, Fantastisch-romantische Suite. Following the screening was a solo performance by Berlin State Opera dancer Elisabeth Grube to The Serenade, another Erdmann composition. Guests had been asked to attend wearing suitable costume for the grand finale of the night, a Biedermeier-themed masquerade ball, which continued until 2am. It’s not hard to see why more money was apparently spent on this huge social event than the film actually cost to make.

For examples of the intertitles from the première version, see those in the 1995 and 2006 restorations.


Austria

Nosferatu (1922) Austrian Primax Film poster by Albin Grau

Nosferatu (1922) Austrian Primax Film poster by Albin Grau

Première: before 9.3.1923, Vienna Horticultural Cinema – Béla Balázs: Nosferatu review in Der Wiener Tag newspaper, 9.3.1923; reprinted in Béla Balázs: Schriften zum Film, Erste Band 1926–1931 (1982, 1984) p. 175f.


Czechoslovakia

Upír Nosferatu (1922) Primax-Film advert with Albin Grau artwork in Czech film exhibitors' book, c. 1926

Upír Nosferatu (1922) Primax-Film advert with Albin Grau artwork in Czech film exhibitors’ book, c. 1926

Première: 2.2.1923 as Upír Nosferatu, Prague Bio Louvre cinema – Prager Tagblatt28.1.1923.

Note that a copy of a Czech print is the source of all public domain versions.


Estonia

18.5.22, Tallinn Apollo kino – Waba Maa, Nr. 113 (1067), 18.5.1922


France

Nosferatu le vampire (1922) French magazine advert

“An hour of terror!!” Nosferatu le vampire, Cinéa magazine advert, 1922

Billed as Nosferatu le vampire, distributor: Cosmograph, length: 1,900m

  • 27.10–22.11.1922, Paris Ciné-Opéra  – M. Bouvier and J. L. Leutrat: Nosferatu (1981) pp. 252f, 272; Cinémagazineno. 45, 10.11.1922, p. 179, 203: full-page ads.
  • From 6.6.1925, Paris Ciné-Carillon.[ref]
  • 25.1.1928, Paris Adyar Room, Tribune Libre du Cinéma film club.[ref]
  • From 24.2.1928, Paris Ciné-Latin – Bouvier and Leutrat: Nosferatu (1981) p. 256.

See this informative article: La sortie de Nosferatu de Murnau à Paris en 1922 (et 1925, 1928, 1931).


Hungary

30.9.22–6.10.22, Budapest Renaissance and Helikon cinemas – Film-újság30.9.22, p. 12–13.


Latvia

23.4.1922,  Riga Kino A T – Rigasche Rundschau, Nr. 89, 22.4.1922


Netherlands

16.2.1922, The Hague Flora and Olympia cinemas– Haagsche Courant, no. 11964, 16.2.1922, p. 3.

10.12.1927 as Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, Amsterdam Centraal Theater; fourth event of the Dutch Film League – Céline Linssen, Hans Schotts and Tom Gunning: Het gaat om de film! Een nieuwe geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Filmliga 1927–1933 (1999) p. 284. The programme was announced as a “reprise”, presumably referring to the screenings above.


UK

Première: 16.12.1928 as Dracula, London New Gallery Kinema; 27th programme of the Film Society – The Film Society Programmes 1925–1939 (1972, UK 1976) p. 104f; Bouvier and Leutrat: Nosferatu (1981) p. 259ff.


US

Nosferatu the Vampire (1922) US Film Guild Cinema advert, 1929

Nosferatu the Vampire (1922) US Film Guild Cinema advert, 1929

As Nosferatu the Vampire, English intertitles: Benjamin de Casseres, 70min, at New York Film Guild Cinema

  • Before 16.5.1929 – NY State Motion Picture Division license application, ?.?.1929; Nosferatu in New York in Lichtbild-Bühne magazine no. 116, 16.5.1929; Bouvier and Leutrat: Nosferatu (1981) p. 261. Theatre Guild Magazine Vol. 6, no. 7, April 1929, p. 59, Film Guild Cinema ad: “NtV… coming attraction… inspired by motives from Dracula… a symphony in gray… moods macabre and mordant… a powerful psychopathic study of blood-lust…” In May issue (no. 8, p. 59) an ad for the pending “European Film Sensation” Moulin Rouge (1928), also reiterates the upcoming performance: “Coming! Nosferatu the Vampire directed by Murnau, director of The Last Laugh.”
  • 14.12.1929 –Bouvier and Leutrat: Nosferatu (1981) p. 261, with regard to a meeting in Variety, 25.12.1929; Luciano Berriatúa: Los proverbios chinos de F. W. Murnau (1991) p. 138; Georges Sadoul: Histoire générale du cinéma 5: L’Art muet (L’après-guerre en Europe 1919-1929) (1975) p. 509, unsourced, cites an American copy in seven acts with a length of 6,942 feet (2,117m). He names the makers of this version as Symon Gould [head of the FGC*] (editor), Benjamin de Casseres (intertitles) and Conrad West (screenwriter). *Dutch Film League magazine no. 4, 12.1927, p. 9: Symon Gould: The Film Arts Guild (New York).

Die zwölfte Stunde (1930)

Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (1930) revision of Nosferatu (1922), German 8-page programme. Copy in Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek Archiv.

Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (1930) revision of Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922). German 8-page programme; copy in Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek Archiv.

Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (1930) German programme, pages 4 and 5

Die zwölfte Stunde programme, pages 4 and 5

 Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (1930) German programme, pages 6 and 7


Die zwölfte Stunde programme, pages 6 and 7

35mm, eight acts, 1893m, after cut-outs: 1799m (1:05:30)

Censorship: 14.11.1930, B27446, Jv. Censorship card not in Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv nor Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek. Reproduced in Lotte H. Eisner: F.W. Murnau (1964, US 1973) p. 233; more editions.

Produced by Deutsch-Film-Production (D.F.P) Berlin SW 48, Friedrichstraße 233, 1930 / Artistic editing: Dr. Waldemar Roger / Music: Georg Fiebiger / Sound system: Organon GmbH, Polyphon-Grammophon-Group / World distribution: German Sound Film Distribution GmbH, Berlin

D.F.P was also registered as “Deutsche Film-Produktion (D.F.P.)”. Until 1932, the company released only two features: the American Wild West films In höchster Gefahr (In Highest Danger) and Bill… Augen auf! (Bill… Eyes Open!), which were both censored on 26.2.1930.

Screenings

Austria

  • Première: 16.5.1930, as Nosferatu (The Vampyr), Vienna – Paimann’s Film Listen no. 737, 23.5.1930, p. 79 states the Viennese première is with six acts and about 2,300m in length; Klaus[2] says 2,297m. Paimann’s name the German “Prana-Organon-Film” as the company of origin.

Germany

  • 17–22.3.1931, Berlin Kamera – Film-Kurier, no. 61, 13.3.1931: “Have You Heard?” memorial for Murnau in the Camera; Lichtbild-Bühne, No. 64, 16.3.1931: “The film appears mute and tinted under the title The Twelfth Hour (A Night of Horror).” The reviewers of these events, however, always speak of Nosferatu. See: The Murnau Memorial Presentation: Nosferatu in the Camera. In Lichtbild-Bühne, No. 66, 18.3.1931.

Spain

Die zwölfte Stunde (1930) aka Nosferatu, el vampiro, sound version reissue of Nosferatu (1922) Spanish poster

Die zwölfte Stunde (1930) aka Nosferatu, el vampiro, sound version reissue of Nosferatu (1922) Spanish poster

Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (The Twelfth Hour: A Night of Horror) was a drastically revised version of Nosferatu, to the extent that the film now had a happy ending! It had sound-on-disc accompaniment, comprising music and sound effects only; no dialogue. The characters were all renamed (yet again), with Orlok becoming Wolkoff, Knock – KarstenHutter – Kundberg and Ellen – Margitta. It also contained some entirely new footage.[2] shot by cameraman Günther Krampf under the direction of Dr. Waldemar Roger. This included a scene at a wake, and a variety of pastoral sequences depicting rural life. Actor Eduard von Winterstein, coincidentally the real-life father of Gustav von Wangenheim, who played Hutter, also joined the cast as an innkeeper in some new scenes. Also appearing was Hans Behal as a priest.

So you see, the idea of giving Count Orlok a voice really is nothing new. There are only two known early prints of Die zwölfte Stunde, but sadly the only one in good, complete condition has been locked away in the archives of the Cinémathèque Française for years and they have no intention of releasing it. I have no idea why but you can ask them here. It’s a real shame, as even just a compilation of the newly shot scenes would make a fascinating extra on any future home video version of its parent film. The Münchner Stadtmuseum recently screened a copy of the Cinémathèque Française  print with live piano accompaniment, as its sound discs are now lost. Apparently it’s not much more than a curiosity, concomitant with poor contemporary reviews. For all that, it still deserves to be seen more widely.

Max Schreck as Count Orlok, resting between takes on the set of Nosferatu (1922)

Max Schreck as Count Orlok, resting between takes on the set of Nosferatu (1922)


References

Nosferatu (1922) Albin Grau watercolour poster design for the Berlin Cinema at Alexanderplatz

Albin Grau watercolour poster design for the Berlin Cinema at Alexanderplatz

This article incorporates some info from Jeanpaul Goergen’s Performance Data, originally published in Filmblatt (Film Sheet), vol. 7, no. 18, Winter/Spring 2002. The same issue also features the article Gute Kopien. Restaurierungen und Editionen (Good Copies: Restorations and Editions). Though superseded by this and my other articles, nonetheless it still contains some points of interest. Additionally, there are many useful documents held at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Orlok in print: books on Nosferatu, Grau and Murnau

Nosferatu (1922) watercolour artwork by Albin Grau

Nosferatu (1922) watercolour artwork by Albin Grau

Grateful thanks to Aitam Bar-SagiDavid Shepard, Lokke Heiss, Martin H. Larsen, and Patrick Stanbury for help with this series of articles.

Any questions or suggestions? Post in the comments.


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I started Brenton Film because I love film – quelle surprise! The silent era, 1930s and 1940s especially get my literary juices flowing though. So you’ll see a lot about those. For more, see this site’s About page.

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