(aka "Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey" or L'Étrange aventure de David Gray" or "Adventures of David Gray" or "Castle of Doom" or "Not Against the Flesh" or "The Strange Adventure of David Gray" or "The Vampire")

France / Germany 1932

 

With Vampyr, Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer's brilliance at achieving mesmerizing atmosphere and austere, profoundly unsettling imagery (The Passion of Joan of Arc and Day of Wrath) was for once applied to the horror genre. Yet the result—concerning an occult student assailed by various supernatural haunts and local evildoers in a village outside Paris—is nearly unclassifiable, a host of stunning camera and editing tricks and densely layered sounds creating a mood of dreamlike terror. With its roiling fogs, ominous scythes, and foreboding echoes, Vampyr is one of cinema's great nightmares.

***

Much to the dismay of his admirers, Danish filmmaker Dreyer followed his silent masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc with a horror film. The result, his first foray into sound, was the greatest vampire film ever made and one of the few undisputed masterpieces of the horror genre. Thrillseekers, beware, though, because it's not that kind of film. Vampyr, rather, is subtly unsettling rather than gory or shocking; it is such stuff as nightmares are made of.

Loosely based on the Le Fanu collection of stories, In a Glass Darkly, the film begins as young David Gray (West) arrives in a dark, mysterious European village and takes a room at the inn. That night a strange old man (Schutz) gives gives him a package to be opened in the event of his death. David later witnesses many strange events, among which is the murder of the old man. David meets the dead man's daughters (Schmitz and Mandel) and opens the package, which contains a copy of Strange Tales of Vampires. Realizing that the town is at the mercy of one of the undead (Gerard), David struggles to save himself and the two young women.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Promotional material

Theatrical Release: May 6th, 1932

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison: 

Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

(Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Spine # 25

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Spine # 437

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:12:23 (NOTE: Bitrate below includes The Mascot in running time) 1:10:51 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:13:33
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.82 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.19:1 Original Pillarboxed Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.1 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.19:1 Original Pillarboxed Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.96 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Image Entertainment

Bitrate

Masters of Cinema

 

NO BITRATE FOR MoC YET

Bitrate

Criterion

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital German Mono Dolby Digital German
4 soundtracks:
        1. Unrestored soundtrack
        2. Tony Rayns commentary
        3. Del Toro commentary
        4. Restored soundtrack
Mono Dolby Digital German
Subtitles English (fixed) English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainemnt

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Wladyslaw Starewicz' 26-minute short film The Mascot (1934)

DVD Release Date: May 13, 1998
Snapper Case

Chapters 19

Release Information:
Studio
: Eureka (Masters of Cinema)

Aspect Ratio:
Pillarboxed - 1.19:1

Edition Details:
• New, high-definition transfer of the Martin Koerber / Cineteca di Bologna film restoration in its original aspect ratio (1.19:1)
• New and improved English subtitles (optional)
• Full-length audio commentary featuring film scholar Tony Rayns
• Full-length audio commentary featuring Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro on one of his favourite films
• Choice of restored or unrestored audio track
• Two deleted scenes, removed by the German censor in 1932
• Carl Th. Dreyer (1966) – a documentary by Jörgen Roos
• Visual essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg on Dreyer’s Vampyr influences
• The Baron – a short MoC documentary about Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg
• Inspiration for the film – Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla – as an on-disc pdf.
• 80-page book featuring rare production stills, a facsimile reproduction of the 1932 Danish film programme, writing by Tom Milne (The Cinema of Carl Dreyer), Jean and Dale Drum (My Only Great Passion: The Life and Films of Carl Th. Dreyer), and Martin Koerber (film restorer).

DVD Release Date: August 25th, 2008
Transparent
Keep Case

Chapters 14

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Pillarboxed - 1.19:1

Edition Details:
• The original German version in a new high-definition digital transfer from the 1998 restoration by Martin Koerber and the Cineteca di Bologna
• Newly credited alternate version with English text
• Audio commentary featuring film scholar Tony Rayns

Disc 2
• Carl Th. Dreyer (1966), a documentary by Jørgen Roos chronicling Dreyer's career  (29:57)
• Visual essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg on Dreyer's influences in creating Vampyr (35:58)
• Radio broadcast from 1958 of Dreyer reading an essay about filmmaking (23:28)
• 46-page liner notes booklet featuring new essays by Mark Le Fanu and Kim Newman, Koerber on the restoration, and a 1964 interview with producer and star Nicolas de Gunzburg, as well as a 214-page book featuring Dreyer and Christen Jul's original screenplay and Sheridan Le Fanu 1872 story "Carmilla," a source for the film.

DVD Release Date: July 22nd, 2008
Keep Case

Chapters 17

 

Comments ADDITION: Eureka (Masters of Cinema_ - Region 2 - PAL August 08': We thank Henry Kedger for supplying these captures which support his hypothesis about the MoC transfer, already published HERE. Looking solely at the captures he has provided I would tend to agree with his summation and if I feel the need to augment with further observations, Henry has agreed to allow to me to do so once my own disc arrives.

Gary Tooze 

Firstly, thanks to Gary for the opportunity to supply information to the DVDBeaver community of my favorite film on this new Masters of Cinema DVD. I am very appreciative!

In comparison to the Criterion - it appears as though MoC did not undertake any visual digital restoration attempting to preserve the unique "sfumato" look of the film. This is comparative to watching an old 35mm film presentation and I, personally, felt this transports a far more theatrical 'feel' to the DVD viewing than I found with the Criterion. There is still a large amount of damage, speckles, and scratches but the contrast levels seemed more consistent without the fluctuations used to minimize the inherent negative damage. In one sense, this gives a cleaner, more accurate, visage of Dreyer's film - especially those who do not have an adverse reaction to the weaknesses that time has rendered upon Dreyer's Vampyr.

On the audio - MoC have used the 'non-cleaned up' soundtrack as the default. Another excellent choice in my opinion. I suspect this was done because various audio restoration software(s) simply mask the prevalent hiss by removing the higher frequencies. This can remove some of the very high strings in the orchestral soundtrack of Vampyr. The restored soundtrack is still included as option 4 (after the commentaries) - available for those that just can't stand the background hiss. Like the image quality, the un-restored track would be more in-line with replicating a 35mm projected presentation.

Extras - repeated from the Criterion edition are the excellent, MoC-made, Tony Rayns commentary, Jørgen Roos documentary and Casper Tybjerg visual essay (noted in the comparison HERE). Unique, though, to the Masters of Cinema supplements are THE BARON (a 14-minute documentary about Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg), two deleted scenes, removed by the German censor in 1932 and the informal Guillermo del Toro commentary track. Del Toro humorously starts out with this disclaimer from the director; "This is not a scholarly dissertation, this is the equivalent of inviting a fat Mexican to your house and you feed him, and then you have to listen to him for a, mercifully, short time... then disagree, agree, insult, or share any of my opinions.". It is a very personal commentary track from a man who absolutely loves the film and talks extremely passionately about Vampyr. He was a pleasure to listen to. The package includes an 80-page book featuring rare production stills, a facsimile reproduction of the 1932 Danish film programme, writing by Tom Milne (The Cinema of Carl Dreyer), Jean and Dale Drum (My Only Great Passion: The Life and Films of Carl Th. Dreyer), and Martin Koerber (film restorer). Finally, saving some paper, is Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (inspiration for the film)– included as an on-disc PDF file.  

Henry Kedger

***

 

The inclusion of the snapper-cased, single-layered Image Entertainment disc from a decade ago in this comparison is an excellent example to see how far the Martin Koerber restoration has come - from what we had. It looks fabulously improved in the new Criterion 2-disc package. The feature disc is dual-layered and progressive showing the film in a, more faithful, pillar-boxed aspect ratio of about 1.19:1. Criterion have wisely included the original German version (German intertitles) with optional English subtitles as well as a newly credited alternate version with English text. Quality looks duplicated but some may appreciate the inclusion as there is extensive text portions and it can be difficult to read the German-translated subtitles (of intertitles) at times. We've shown examples below.

So many have owned the old picture-boxed 1.33 Image Ent. DVD for so long it's hard to imagine the collection without it... but thankfully it is no longer required with this incredible new package from Criterion which bests the old curmudgeon disc in every single solitary area.

I don't think my words could do better than simply viewing the captures below - we've added extra ones to give as clear as idea as possible of what the new vs. old improvements basically are. It's far cleaner, better black levels, much more information in the frame - the Image Ent. disc has chroma and non-removable large English subtitle cards etc. Comparatively it looks immeasurably poor beside the Criterion.  

***

Supplements: Getting the Image Entertainment disc out of the way first - it includes Wladyslaw Starewicz' 26-minute short film The Mascot (1934) tacked onto the end, and running immediately after, Vampyr.

The Criterion have included an excellent Tony Rayns commentary accessible on both 'German original' and 'English text' versions. Rayns is considered the best commentarist in the business and this well-prepared effort certainly continues to support that observation. I know I will listen to this at least 3 more times - it is filled with information and his manner of discussion is comfortable and highly educational. Fabulous.

There is a second disc (single-layered) with a rare and informative 30 minute documentary directed by Jørgen Roos, one of Denmark's preeminent documentarians, chronicling Dreyer's career. It was made in 1966 and is simply entitled 'Carl Th. Dreyer'. It has English subtitles and shows some footage of Dreyer himself. Much appreciated is a lighter, 35 minute, visual essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg, professor at the University of Copenhagen. It focuses on Dreyer's influences, pre and hence, creating Vampyr. He uses archival still image, clips and scenes censored by the German authorities. Tybjerg traces the inner workings of the film's surrealist style. We are also treated to a 25 minute radio broadcast, from 1958, of Dreyer reading an essay about filmmaking. Very interesting indeed. Criterion also adds, to this triumphant package, a 46-page liner notes booklet featuring new essays by Mark Le Fanu and Kim Newman, as well as Koerber on the restoration, and a 1964 interview with producer and star Nicolas de Gunzburg. We also get a 214-page book featuring Dreyer and Christen Jul's original screenplay and Sheridan Le Fanu 1872 story "Carmilla," - a source for the film.

Not much more to say - 'must-own', 'essential' all seem understating the value. Along with ITV's Blu-ray of Black Narcissus this is my personal favorite DVD of the Year to date.

NOTE: Masters of Cinema will be releasing their package of this landmark film, scheduled for August 25th of this year HERE, and we will add to this comparison once we receive it - hopefully next month.

Gary W. Tooze

 

Criterion package

 



DVD Menus

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL

 

 

(Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)
 

 
 
 

 

Criterion - Disc 2

 

 


Titles

 

(Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion/ Eureka RIGHT)

 

 

 

 

Intertitle Subtitle Samples

 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC German original SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL THIRD

4) Criterion English text version BOTTOM

 

 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


 Screen Captures

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

NOTE: I could not find this (below - Criterion/Eureka) image on the Image Entertainment disc.

 

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 
DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Spine # 25

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Spine # 437

Region 1 - NTSC




 

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