Queer Places:
Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf, Bahnhofstraße 2, 14532 Stahnsdorf, Germania

Image result for F.W. MurnauFriedrich Wilhelm Murnau (born Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe; December 28, 1888 – March 11, 1931) was a German film director. Murnau was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Ibsen plays he had seen at the age of 12, and became a friend of director Max Reinhardt. During World War I he served as a company commander at the eastern front and was in the German air force, surviving several crashes without any severe injuries.[1]

One of Murnau's acclaimed works is the 1922 film Nosferatu, an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Although not a commercial success due to copyright issues with Stoker's novel, the film is considered a masterpiece of Expressionist film. He later directed the 1924 film The Last Laugh, as well as a 1926 interpretation of Goethe's Faust. He later emigrated to Hollywood in 1926, where he joined the Fox Studio and made three films: Sunrise (1927), 4 Devils (1928) and City Girl (1930). The first of these three is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.[2]

In 1931, Murnau travelled to Bora Bora to make the film Tabu (1931) with documentary film pioneer Robert J. Flaherty, who left after artistic disputes with Murnau, who had to finish the movie on his own. A week prior to the opening of the film Tabu, Murnau died in a Santa Barbara hospital from injuries he had sustained in an automobile accident that occurred along the Pacific Coast Highway near Rincon Beach, southeast of Santa Barbara.

Of the 21 films Murnau directed, eight are considered to be completely lost. One reel of his feature Marizza, genannt die Schmuggler-Madonna survives. This leaves only 12 films surviving in their entirety.

A week prior to the opening of the film Tabu, Murnau drove up the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles, California in a hired Rolls-Royce. The young driver, a 14-year-old Filipino servant,[17] crashed the car against an electric pole. Murnau hit his head and died in a hospital the next day, in nearby Santa Barbara,[3][1] before the premiere of his last film.

Murnau was entombed in Southwest Cemetery in Stahnsdorf (Südwest-Kirchhof Stahnsdorf) near Berlin.[18][19] Only 11 people attended the funeral. Among them were Robert J. Flaherty, Emil Jannings, Greta Garbo and Fritz Lang, who delivered the eulogy. Garbo also commissioned a death mask of Murnau, which she kept on her desk during her years in Hollywood.[8]

In July 2015, Murnau's grave was broken into, the remains disturbed and the skull removed by persons unknown.[20] Wax residue was reportedly found at the site, leading some to speculate that candles had been lit, perhaps with an occult or ceremonial significance. As this disturbance was not an isolated incident, the cemetery managers are considering sealing the grave.[21][22]


  1. "F. W. Murnau Killed in Coast Auto Crash." The New York Times. March 12, 1931. Retrieved 2009-01-22. Movie Director Planned to Go Home to Germany After Making South Seas Film. F.W. Murnau, German and American moving picture director, died this morning in a local hospital from injuries received in an automobile accident yesterday afternoon on the Coast Highway north of here.
  2. "Votes for Sunrise A Song of Two Humans (1927)". British Film Institute. 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  3. "F. W. Murnau". TCM. Archived from the original on July 21, 2015.
  4. "Plumpe, Heinrich" (in German). www.deutsche-biographie.de. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  5. "Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau". internettrash.com. Archived from the original on March 24, 2005.
  6. Hergemöller, Bernd-Ulrich (2010). Mann für Mann. LIT Verlag. ISBN 978-3643106933.
  7. Room, Adrian (2012). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins (5 ed.). McFarland. p. 340. ISBN 9780786457632.
  8. Eisner, Lotte H. (1973). Murnau. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520022850.
  9. "F.W. Murnau". www.allmovie.com. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  10. "F. W. Murnau" (in German). www.filmportal.de. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  11. "F. W. Murnau Biography". Biography.com. p. 1. Retrieved June 19, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  12. Hall, Phil. "THE BOOTLEG FILES: "NOSFERATU"". Film Threat. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  13. Brockmann, Stephen (2015). A critical history of German film. Camden House. ISBN 1-571134689.
  14. Isenberg, Noah (2009). Weimar Cinema : an essential guide to classic films of the era. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231130546.
  15. "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  16. DiMare, Phillip C., ed. (2011). Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia [3 volumes]: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 755.
  17. Friederich Wilhelm Murnau. Nosferatumovie.com. Accessed from August 8, 2012.
  18. "'Nosferatu' director F.W. Murnau's skull stolen by grave robber". Mercury News. Associated Press. 15 July 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  19. Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 33926-33927). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  20. "Nosferatu director's skull believed stolen". BBC News. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  21. "Nosferatu director's head stolen from grave in Germany". Guardian News. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  22. Atkinson, Michael (26 January 2001). "The truth about film-maker FW Murnau". the Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  23. Bernstein, Richard. (March 25, 1998) "'Nosferatu': The Imagined Life of a Film Pioneer," The New York Times. Retrieved on July 10, 2016.