Murnau, Friedrich Wilhelm

born Plumpe (1888-1931)
   film* director; with Fritz Lang,* Germany's finest maker of silent films. He was born to prosperous circumstances in Bielefeld; his father, owner of a thriving textile factory, moved the family to a country estate near Kassel when Murnau was seven. When business failure took the family s fortune, the estate was sold and the family moved to Kassel. With sibling help, Murnau constructed a chamber theater* that staged Sunday performances. After Gymnasium he studied at Hei-delberg. While acting locally, he was seen by Max Reinhardt,* who invited him to join his Deutsches Theater in Berlin.* Welcoming the offer, Murnau at-tempted to maintain his studies, but adopted the name Murnau in 1909 to pre-clude his father discovering what he was doing. The ploy failed when a family friend saw him on stage; disinherited, he relied thereafter upon his maternal grandfather for funding. After university he joined Reinhardt as an assistant director. Serving during the war in the flying corps, he was forced by a fog to land in Switzerland and in 1917 was interned for the war's duration. He was allowed, however, to direct stage productions while he compiled propaganda films for the German embassy in Bern. The propaganda work enticed Murnau to film.
   After the war Murnau returned to Berlin and, with actor Conrad Veidt,* formed the Murnau-Veidt Filmgesellschaft. His first production was Der Knabe in Blau (The boy in blue), a 1919 melodrama inspired by Gainsborough's paint-ing and Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray. He rapidly produced twenty more films, nine of which have been lost. Satanas, another 1919 endeavor, was written by Robert Wiene (director of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari*) and featured Veidt as the devil. Der Bucklige und die Tanzerin (The hunchback and the dancer) followed in 1920 and initiated his collaboration with Carl Mayer. The first of his surviving films was Der Gang in die Nacht (Journey into the night, 1920), a tragic story, scripted by Mayer, of a doctor who loses his wife to a painter whom he cures of blindness. His best-known silent film was Nosferatu (1922), a chilly version of Bram Stoker s Dracula.
   Murnau was unsurpassed in the use of evocative symbols. Der letzte Mann (in English, Last Laugh), released during the 1924 currency stabilization, estab-lished his international reputation and inspired his later departure for Hollywood. Making use of a steadily moving camera, the film, which features the social collapse of a uniformed hotel doorman (Emil Jannings*), was the first Murnau directed for UFA.* Erich Pommer, who headed UFA at the time, soon assigned Murnau two big-budget films: Tartuff (1925), an adaptation of Moliere's satire on religious hypocrisy; and Faust, a controversial rendition of Goethe s classic. Both were enormous commercial successes.
   Faust was Murnau's final German film. In 1926 he was in America working for William Fox on Sunrise (scripted by Mayer); the film won three Academy Awards in 1927 and was hailed as a masterpiece. Following two more films, Murnau broke his contract with Fox in 1929. In a collaborative effort with Robert Flaherty, he filmed Tabu, a tragedy of forbidden love between two native islanders in the South Pacific.
   Murnau died in an automobile accident in March 1931, a week before the opening of Tabu. It is difficult to assess how his career might have progressed. Because he was consistently imposing European values on his work and, as critic Lotte Eisner remarked, struggling with "a world in which he remained despairingly alien, his disposition would have provoked constant problems in Hollywood (Wakeman). This aside, Eisner judged him "the greatest film-director the Germans have ever known.
   REFERENCES:Lotte Eisner, Haunted Screen and Murnau; Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler; Wakeman, World Film Directors.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • Murnau, Friedrich Wilhelm — • МУ РНАУ (Murnau) Фридрих Вильгельм (наст. фам. Плумпе, Plumpe) (28.12.1889 11.3.1931)    нем. режиссёр. Учился в Гейдельбергском и Берлинском ун тах. Работал в Немецком т ре М. Рейнхардта, в школе к рого обучался актёрскому мастерству. С 1914… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Murnau, Friedrich Wilhelm — pseud. di Plumpe, Wilhelm Friedrich …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Murnau, Friedrich Wilhelm —    см. Мурнау, Фридрих Вильгельм …   Энциклопедический словарь экспрессионизма

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe — Friedrich Murnau Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (auch F. W. Murnau, * 28. Dezember 1888 als Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe in Bielefeld; † 11. März 1931 in Santa Barbara, Kalifornien) gilt als einer der bedeutendsten deutschen Filmregisseure der Stummfilmära …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau — Friedrich Murnau Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (auch F. W. Murnau, * 28. Dezember 1888 als Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe in Bielefeld; † 11. März 1931 in Santa Barbara, Kalifornien) gilt als einer der bedeutendsten deutschen Filmregisseure der Stummfilmära …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau — Nombre real Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe Nacimiento 28 de diciembre de 1888 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau — Données clés Naissance 28 décembre 1888 …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Friedrich Wilhelm — ist der Name folgender Personen: Friedrich Wilhelm (Brandenburg) (1620–1688), der Große Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm I. (Preußen) (1688–1740), Preußens größter innerer König Friedrich Wilhelm II. (Preußen) (1744–1797), „Der dicke Lüderjahn“… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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