12-28-1888

F.W. Murnau

FRIEDRICH WILHELM MURNAU, German film director, born (d. 1931); One of a number of directors who were part of the expressionist movement in German cinema during the 1920s, and he directed many movies that were influential. While some of Murnau’s films from the silent era have been lost most still survive. They are widely acknowledged among film scholars as masterpieces.

The famous German director, best known for the exquisite silent film Nosferatu, his film Sunrise, produced in Hollywood, is one of the most beautiful films ever made. His death is certainly the most bizarre in a town known for extraordinary ways of dying. In 1931, Murnau and his chauffeur were killed in an automobile accident. From the way the bodies had been found, it was rather clear that the director was killed, and the accident was probably caused, while Murnau was blowing the driver.

Only 11 people showed up for the funeral. Among them were Greta Garbo and Fritz Lang who delivered the funeral speech. Garbo also commissioned a death mask of Murnau which she kept on her desk during her years in Hollywood.

He published a beautiful book of private photographs, many of comely young men, Die privaten fotografien. The book presents photographs from his private album, taken mostly by himself between 1924 and 1930 in Berlin, Hollywood, and Tahiti.