Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau

Scen.: Robert Wiene. F.: Karl Freund. Scgf.: Ernst Stern. Int.: Conrad Veidt (Hermit / Satanas), Fritz Kortner (Amenhotep), Sadjah Gezza (Nouri), Ernst Hofmann (Jorab), Margit Barnay (Phahi), Else Berna (Lucrezia Borgia), Kurt Ehrle (Gennaro), Jaro Fürth (Rustinghella), Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur (Alfonso d’Este), Martin Wolfgang (Hans). Prod.: Viktoria Film Co.
Fragment 1: 35mm. L.: 40 m (l. orig.: 1996 m). D.: 2’ a 18 f/s. Col.
Fragment 2: 35mm. L.: 42 m. D. 2’ a 18 f/s. Tinted.

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

Of Satanas, the second film directed by F.W. Murnau, only two short fragments have survived; one was found in Japan in the late 80s, the other in Spain, in 1996 by Vittorio Martinelli. Both are from the first episode, set in ancient Egypt, of this work divided into three episodes. The Japanese fragment was discovered in the Komiya collection when I opened a can bearing the Japanese title of Joe May’s Ihr großes Geheimnis (Your Big Secret). It contained a small roll of nitrate film without any lead. When the image appeared I recognised Conrad Veidt at once. This was not the Joe May film but a different, very impressive Egyptian drama. Yes, it was Murnau’s lost film. It ran for three or four minutes, and then the images on the Steenbeck screen switched to Ihr großes Geheimnis. Did Mr Komiya use the Satanas fragment as a lead for the Joe May film? We do not know. In any case, the rediscovered fragment of Satanas is a gem of the Komiya collection.
The atmosphere is eerie, with extreme close-ups and the actor gazing directly into the camera.
In her book on Murnau, Lotte Eisner gives a precise synopsis of the film and its three episodes, The Tyrant, The Prince (after Lucrezia Borgia by Victor Hugo) and The Dictator (set during the revolution of February 1917). Eisner mentions Intolerance as a possible influence, but Satana – Il dramma dell’umanità by Luigi Maggi (Italy 1912), a film in four episodes set in different epochs, seems much more likely as a source of inspiration.

Hiroshi Komatsu

Copy From

Fragment 1: Restored by Filmoteca de Zaragoza in collaboration with Filmoteca Española at Iskra laboratory from a original fragment of the 35mm nitrate print preserved at Filmoteca de Zaragoza. Fragment 2: Restored in 1991 by National Film Archive of Japan at Ikueisha, Inc. laboratory from a tinted nitrate print. This program is co-organized by National Film Archive of Japan and Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna with the generous support of Kinoshita Group.