Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau

Sog.: da un’idea di Albin Grau e dal romanzo Dracula (1897) di Bram Stoker. Scen.: Henrik Galeen. F.: Fritz Arno Wagner. M.: Friedrich W. Murnau. Scgf.: Albin Grau. Int.: Max Schreck (conte Orlok/Nosferatu), Greta Schröder (Ellen Hutter), Gustav von Wangenheim (Hutter), Ruth Landshoff (Ruth), Alexander Granach (Knock), Georg Heinrich Schnell (Harding), John Gottowt (professor Bulwer), Gustav Botz (professor Sievers), Max Nemetz (capitano della nave), John Gottowt (Bulwer), Wolfgang Heinz (Maat). Prod.: Enrico Diekmann, Albin Grau per Prana-Film. DCP. Col. (da una copia imbibita / from a tinted print).

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The romantic atmosphere of Nosferatu, which makes nature’s dark, unseen forces visible with images based on Friedrich, is in fact a faithful reproduction of the spirit of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Why did Murnau choose Lübeck for shooting many of the film’s scenes? Perhaps he was influenced by the haunting image that Edvard Munch created from the facade of an old store in the city. Munch worked in Lübeck between 1902 and 1903.

What is certain is that he planned the film around paintings … It may seem a little over the top that Murnau used paintings by his friend Franz Marc such as 1910’s Weidende Pferde, at the time kept at the Lenbach Haus in Munich, for a simple shot of backlit horses frightened by hyenas. But I think that Murnau referred to another image by Marc: the wolves howling in the dark of night as in 1913’s Die Wölfe (Balkan Krieg). Murnau replaced the wolves with hyenas but used the image of the horses painted by his friend, which clearly emerges from comparing the film’s unusual framing with Landschaft mit Pferden of 1909. I believe he changed the wolves into hyenas due to the influence of drawings by Alfred Kubin such as Hyäne, of 1920, which depicts the hyena as a kind of vampire devouring human cadavers in cemeteries. A much more striking image than a wolf … But the most significant artistic influence on the film’s character was the work of Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). It was undoubtedly Murnau’s idea to use the works of Friedrich to develop Grau and Galeen’s visual concept of the dark forces of Nature … With the works of these romantic painters, Murnau obtained an unusual result for film. Making the invisible visible. Forcing the presence of the dark forces of Nature on the viewer’s unconscious mind.

Luciano Berriatúa, Los proverbios chinos de F.W. Murnau. Etapa alemana, Filmoteca Española, Madrid 1990


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Restored by Luciano Berriatúa on behalf of Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung in collaboration with La Cinémathèque française and Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv Berlin/Koblenz at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory