F.W. Murnau

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F W Murnau
F W Murnau

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (December 28, 1888March 11, 1931) was one of the most influential directors of the silent film era. (His actual birth name was Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe.)

He was one of a number of German film directors to take part in the expressionist movement that took root in German cinema during the 1920s, and he directed a number of movies that were influential and remain widely seen among film scholars today. Much of Murnau's output from the silent era has been lost, and only a few of his films survive today; film scholars acknowledge them as masterpieces.

Murnau's most famous film is Nosferatu, a 1922 adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula that caused Stoker's estate to sue for copyright infringement. Murnau lost the lawsuit and all prints of the film were ordered destroyed, but bootleg prints were stored and preserved over time, so that Nosferatu is widely available in the present era. The film inspired Werner Herzog to remake the film in 1979.

Nearly as important as Nosferatu in Murnau's filmography was The Last Laugh (1925), written by Carl Mayer and starring Emil Jannings. Often voted second greatest film of all time by international critics' polls, the film introduced the subjective point of view camera (where the camera "sees" from the eyes of a character and uses visual style to convey a character's psychological state). It also anticipated the cinema verite movement in its subject matter.

Murnau emigrated to Hollywood in 1926, where he joined the Fox Studio and made the 1920s-era fable Sunrise - a movie often cited by film scholars as one of the greatest films of all time. It was a success and it received several Oscars at the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1927 (though the movie Wings won Best Picture). However, Murnau's next two pictures, Four Devils and City Girl, were modified to adapt to the new era of sound film (Four Devils has been completely lost), and they were not well received as a result. Their poor reception disillusioned Murnau, and he quit Fox to journey for a while in the South Pacific.

Together with documentary pioneer Robert Flaherty Murnau travelled abroad to realize the film Tabu. But Flaherty left after artistic disputes with Murnau who had to finish the movie on his own. Due to images of bare-breasted "native" Polynesian women it was later censored in the US. Unfortunately Murnau did not live to see the premiere of the film because he died in an automobile accident in 1931. He was entombed in Berlin, Robert Flaherty, Emil Jannings and Greta Garbo attended the funeral. Fritz Lang delivered the funeral speech.


  • Der Knabe in Blau (The Blue Boy) (1919)
  • Der Januskopf (Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde) (1920)
  • Abend - Nacht - Morgen (1920)
  • Satanas (1920)
  • Sehnsucht (Desire) (1920)
  • Der Gang in die Nacht (Journey Into the Night) (1920)
  • Der Bucklige und die Tänzerin (The Hunchback and the Dancer) (1920)
  • Schloe Vogeloed (Haunted Castle)(1921)
  • Marizza (1922)
  • Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)
  • Phantom (1922)
  • Der Brennende Acker (The Burning Soil) (1922)
  • Die Austreibung (The Expulsion) (1923)
  • Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh) (1924)
  • Die Finanzen des Großherzogs (The Grand Duke's Finances) (1924)
  • Herr Tartüff (1926)
  • Faust (1926)
  • Sunrise (1927)
  • Four Devils (1928)
  • City Girl (1930)
  • Tabu (1931)

External links

es:F.W. Murnau eo:Friedrich Wilhelm MURNAU fr:Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau it:Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau fi:F. W. Murnau sv:F.W. Murnau


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