Hollywood has always thrived on rumour and scandal and there were many rumours built around the car accident on March 11th 1931, that claimed the life of German expressionist director, F W Murnau. The newspapers of the day ran stories, detailing the origiastic goings on in the car before the crash, but in truth all that had happened is that Marnau had allowed his young Filipino valet, and homosexual lover, to drive the powerful motorcar. The valet drove too fast and had to swerve to avoid a truck – a swerve which sent the car off the road. It wasn’t that bad an accident and most of the occupants of the car were unhurt but Marnau suffered a fractured skull and died later in hospital.
To fans of the fantastic Marnau is best known as the director of the
silent classic, Nosferatu and were it not for this one film he would
probably be forgotten, but the director made several other films in the
horror genre. However these are missing, most famous is The Phantom
(1922) and this only exists in part with a few fragments of the movie
being unearthed recently by film historians. And most of what is known
about these films come from contemporary accounts. We do however have
Nosferatu- an unofficial adaptation of Bram Stokers Dracula that
actually managed to be closer to the source novel than Todd Browing’s
official 1931 version. So close was it in fact that the director was
sued by the Stoker estate over copyright theft.
The fact remains though that Nosferatu is essential viewing for any
fan of fantastic cinema – most horror fans know of the movie but how
many of the blood and guts generation have actually seen it? The film
resonates even today and was one of the movies that defined the
dreamlike quality of good horror cinema.
The movie is now in the public domain though I would recommend the restored DVD version. .
We have embedded the full movie below