Headless Death Mask : F.W Marnau

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau

If you don’t know this early Director for horror film then please do yourself a favour and look his movies up this October. His silent noir movies are enough to set the goosebump mood you’ve been looking for.

Known primarily for his Dracula based silent film ‘Nosferatu’ , thee most terrifying depiction in history. Murnau made his mark in Horror both in the 1920’s and for decades to come. Many movies you see today all stem back to his creepy and isolated visions decades ago.

Nosferatu artwork via Etsy

He has had many other movies which varied in theme but still remain iconic for creepy factor and overall chilling elements here’s just a few for you to embark on.

  • Goethe’s faust
  • Tabu (1931)
  • Phantom(1922)
  • The haunted castle (1921)
  • Journey into the night (1921)

Now I could go into the description of each of these movies but I think I need to give more of an insight into both him as a person and background knowledge and legends that have followed both him and his movies for generations.

So here we go….

Born December 1888 Freidrich as a young boy already had a passion from playwrights such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche,Shakespeare and Ibsen.

At the age of 12 he would stage his own style of plays in front of his parents at dinner parties and even as a child he was known by people as an ‘icy’ and ‘imperial’ person who had an unhealthy obsession with film.

As a student he studied in Philosophy . Art history and Literature, which may explain his independence to look into characters minds and with amateur camera angles used point of view as a way to display first person perspectives. This method is still used today in a lot of movies in general but especially in the newer horrors and suspense movies.

He spent his adulthood as a commander on eastern frontline and also enrolled in the German Air Force and what really stood out was as a pilot he survived 8 crashes without a scratch!…

F.w marnau behind the lense

It wasn’t until his later years that he pursued his talent in movie directing and eloped to Hollywood in 1926 just after his infamous ‘Nosferatu’ feature. In Hollywood he enjoyed small success and his life would take a very unexpected dark and twisted turn both in life and in death.

Yes…here’s where it gets both disturbing and mysterious. Let’s go back to when his feature Hollywood movie ‘Tabu’ was just about to premier. Mauner suffered a fatal car crash just days before the release and the circumstances surrounding his death are still up for debate.

Along with F.W was a 14 year old Filipino boy who left the incident unscathed. It was reported that F.W allowed the young teen to drive the vehicle after a shoot that had finished. It was also claimed that when his body was discovered it seemed as though he may have been performing sexual acts upon the boy in question at the time.

This explosive detail may have been the reason the car crash happened. Another story that made the papers was that Mauner had been warned by a Psychic days before about this incident and that he shouldn’t make the commute. With The man being as stubborn as reported he went against this advice thus resulting in his demise.

Whatever the case needless to say his ending was dark and seedy at best. But if that wasn’t dark enough much later forward in decades 2015 to be exact. mauners resting place was decimated and his remains disturbed. Wax was found at the scene leading some to conclude that their may have been a ritual or ceremony performed. More evidence pointed to this suggestion as along with disturbed remain his head…was also missing and…has never been found since!(creepy)

Well good job that we have a Death mask of him then isn’t it?

It was Greta Garbo who came along with the great idea of having a death mask made of the director after his death so she could keep it as a heirloom and she did exactly that encasing it and displaying it in her dressing rooms and home in Hollywood.

Death mask in question F.W Marnau

Even after his death the mans own life became somewhat of a Hollywood horror feature…oh the irony.

His movies also were filled with rumors and dark truths over the years one that stood out among all the others which coincides with the ritual story is that of Max Schreck.

Nosferatu still with actor Max Schreck

The actor who played Nosferatu become a myth all on his own with not really many people knowing much about him. His last name Shreck translated became, “ Terror” which seems coincidental but stranger than that is the fable that his acting as Dracula was so good it led many people including the director to suggest that he himself was a real life vampire.

With all these background stories and rumours it’s clear to see why both the man and the movies made Hollywood history and founded a stamp on horror that can be hard to replicate.

His infamous ‘Nosferatu’ did not do as well when released due to Bram Stokers wife suing him over the copyright from Stokers original novel.

Bram stokers- Dracula

But since then the legend lives on and his films have become iconic for their grainy, silent and chilling scenes along with very impressionable characters to sting the senses.

So with that I say goodnight 🌙

Thankyou for reading

The Yenner 📰

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