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F.W.  Murnau
Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe [1888-1931]

silent film director F.W. Murnau [1888-1931]          short profile

movies of F.W. Murnau

works about F.W. Murnau


"Why would you possibly want to be in a play when you could be in a film?"
— line 'spoken' by F.W. Murnau in the 1922 silent film "Nosferatu"

          Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe was born on 28 December 1888 in Bielefeld, North-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. He studied art history at the University of Heidelberg and grew to the height of 6 feet 9 inches tall. He became obsessed with the new art form of cinema, and around that time renamed himself after a German resort. After serving as a combat pilot during World War I, he directed his first film in 1919.
          Murnau worked with major directors and actors of Germany's Kammerspiel ('chamber dramas in a minimalist and naturalistic style') and expressionist movements of 1920s stage and cinema – including William Dieterle, Fritz Lang, Paul Leni, Ernst Lubitsch, Otto Preminger, Max Reinhardt & Robert Wiene.

          Fox brought Murnau to Hollywood in 1926, and his first effort, "Sunrise", won a shared Oscar for what is now Best Picture. Murnau's lifestyle was rather flamboyant, even for Hollywood, and his homosexuality was a well-known secret. When he died 11 March 1931 in a car crash near Santa Barbara, California in the front seat of the limousine driven by his 14-year-old Filipino manservant, gossip abounded, even though the other passengers denied any such salacious circumstance. Only 11 people attended Murnau's funeral – but among those attendees were director Robert Flaherty, Greta Garbo, actor Emil Jannings, eulogist Fritz Lang, scenarist Carl Mayer, and cameraman Fritz Arno Wagner.
          During his lifetime, F.W. Murnau received only (besides that first Oscar) a Kinema Junpo Award for Best Foreign Language Film for "Sunrise" (in 1929); he was awarded a posthumous 'In Memoriam' Teddy Jury Award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2003.

F.W. Murnau entry at Wikipedia
F.W. Murnau credits [1919-31] at Internet Movie Database

Movies  of  F.W. Murnau
F.W. Murnau credits [1919-31] at Internet Movie Database
search F.W. Murnau videos/DVDs at Amazon

Murnau, Borzage and Fox DVD box set  "Murnau, Borzage, and Fox Box Set" on DVD [2008]
Fox b&w DVD [12/2008] 12 disks for $181.99
contains 14 b&w feature films: F.W. Murnau's titles are "Sunrise" [1927] starring George O'Brien & Janet Gaynor (two versions); "Four Devils" lost film (fragments) [1928]; and "City Girl" [1930] starring Charles Farrell & Mary Duncan; while Frank Borzage's 11 titles include "Lazybones" [1925] script by Frances Marion, starring Madge Bellamy, Buck Jones & Zasu Pitts; "Seventh Heaven" [1927] won 3 Oscars, starring Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell; "Street Angel" [1928] starring Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell; "The River" lost film (fragments) [1929] starring
Charles Farrell & Mary Duncan; "Lucky Star" [1929] starring Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell; "They Had To See Paris" [1929] starring Will Rogers; "Song O' My Heart" [1930] starring John McCormack, Alice Joyce & Maureen O'Sullivan (two sound versions); "Liliom" [1930] starring Charles Farrell; "Bad Girl" [1931]; "Young America" [1932] starring Tommy Conlon, Raymond Borzage, Spencer Tracy, Doris Kenyon & Ralph Bellamy; and "After Tomorrow" [1932] starring Charles Farrell & Marian Nixon; extras include commentaries, outtakes, theatrical trailers, still galleries & featurettes

Murnau Silents Collection DVD box set from Kino Video  
"Murnau Silents" DVD Box Set [2009]

Kino Video b&w DVD set [3/2009] 6 disks for $59.96
contains "The Haunted Castle" [1921], "Nosferatu" [1922],
"The Last Laugh" [1924], "The Finances of The Grand Duke"
[1924], "Tartuffe" [1925], and "Faust" [1926]; extras include
3 documentaries, photo gallery

·            ·

"Der Knabe In Blau (The Boy In Blue)"
aka "Emerald of Death" [1919]

"The Haunted Castle" [1921]

"Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens"  [1922]
Directed by F.W. Murnau, starring Max Schrek full credits from IMDb

"Nosferatu The Vampyre" [1979]

"Shadow of The Vampire" [2000] /tt0189998/
A fictionalized account of the making of the 1922 silent film "Nosferatu", with John Malkovich as Murnau; the trope is that Murnau is so dedicated to making the film genuine that he actually hires a real vampire; Willem Dafoe portrays Max Schreck, the actor portraying Count Orlock. Directed by E. Elias Merhige; also starring Udo Kier, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack & Eddie Izzard • /B00005B6L0/ & /B000092T3U/

"Burning Soil" [1922]

"Phantom" [1922]

"The Last Laugh" [1924 silent]

"The Finances of The Grand Duke" [1924]

"Tartuffe" [1925]

"Faust" [1926]

Murnau's Films in Hollywood

won Oscar for Unique & Artistic Picture {Best Picture}  won Oscar for Best Actress (Janet Gaynor}  won Oscar for Best Cinematography}    "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" [Fox Sept 1927]
won Oscars for 'Unique and Artistic Picture', Best Actress (Gaynor) & Best Cinematography
Sunrise 1927 movie poster  
B.F.I. Sunset 1927 critical text  
A femme fatale from the city convinces a farmer to murder his wife; rowing a boat across the river to the city, the man cannot do the deed. The wife flees, and the husband follows her into the city and into a church where there is a wedding, and the couple reunite. After adventures in the city – an amusement park, etc. – they row back across the river, but a storm comes up and the wife is lost. The villagers bring the man home, where he chases the mistress away and tries to strangle her, but the wife is found alive and the reunited couple embrace as the sun rises behind them. Directed by F.W. Murnau; scenario by Carl Mayer, based on the novella "Die Reise nach Tilsit" by Hermann Sudermann; starring George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor & Margaret Livingston; won Oscars for 'Unique and Artistic Picture', Best Actress (Gaynor) & Best Cinematography; listed on National Film Registry (1989); listed on Time Magazine's All-TIME 100 Movies (5/2005)
DIGITALLY-RESTORED & RE-RELEASED on DVD by Fox in Summer 2010, Blu-ray in 2011
Masters of Cinema b&w Blu-ray/DVD combo [1/2014] 3 disks for $29.95
U.K. import b&w Blu-ray/DVD combo [undated] 2 disks for $41.69
Fox b&w Blu-ray [1/2014] for $23.48
A.I.S. b&w Blu-ray [8/2013] 3 disks for $24.29
Korean import all-regions b&w DVD [undated] for $16.98
Fox Limited Edition b&w DVD [1/2005] for $34.79
11"x17" red poster from Amazon for $14.99
full credits from IMDbfilm entry at Wikipedia
"Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" screenplay [1998]
critical text by Lucy Fisher

B.F.I. Film Classics 7¼x5¼ pb [9/98] for $10.17

"Four Devils" [1928]

"City Girl" [1930]

"Tabu: A Story of The South Seas" [1931]

Works  About  F.W. Murnau

F.W. Murnau biography by Lotte H. Eisner  "F.W. Murnau" [1964 & 1973]
by Lotte H. Eisner

Univ CA Press English translation pb [6/73] out of print/used
Univ CA Press English translation hardcover [6/73] out of print/used
Le Terrain Vague French-language pb [1964] out of print/imported

"Murnaus Faustfilm" [Carl Hanser Verlag, 1980] by Eric Rohmer

"Die U.F.A." documentary feature [Germany 1992] /tt0332455/
Directed by Hartmut Bitomsky

"Los 5 Faust de F.W. Murnau" documentary feature [Spain 2002] /tt1146335/
Written & directed by Luciano Berriatúa; narrated by Ana Cristina Iriarte

"The Way To Murnau" 35-minute documentary [2003]
included on "Tartuffe" DVD from Kino; not listed on IMDb

"Die Sprache der Schatten - Murnau: Die frühen Jahre und Nosferatu" documentary feature
[Spain 2007] /tt1239410/ Directed by Luciano Berriatúa; narrated by Thomas Lang

"Murnau, Borzage and Fox" documentary feature [2008] /tt1346901/
Directed by John Cork & Lisa Van Eyssen

L i n k s

F.W. Murnau entry at Wikipedia
F.W. Murnau credits [1919-31] at Internet Movie Database
search F.W. Murnau videos/DVDs at Amazon

F.W. Murnau Foundation/Stiftung [est. 1966]: German or English
F.W. Murnau fansite at FilmMuseum Berlin

Online sales in association with  search F.W. Murnau videos/DVDs at Amazon

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