Nosferatu Director’s Skull Stolen From Grave

The skull of Nosferatu director FW Murnau has been reported stolen from his grave in a family plot in Germany.

The skull of 1920s silent film director FW Murnau has been reported stolen from his grave in a family plot in Stahnsdorf, near Berlin. Wax residue found near the grave suggests candles were lit, leading authorities to believe the theft may have an occult-related motive.

Friedrich Wilhelm “F. W.” Murnau was born on December 28, 1888 in Bielefeld, Germany. He died on March 11, 1931 following a car crash in Santa Barbara, California.


Murnau directed the 1922 silent film Nosferatu, an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the short-lived Prana Film studio. Because the studio could not obtain rights to Dracula, they changed names and other details in the story. The vampire was called Nosferatu, and Count Dracula became Count Orlok.

Stoker’s widow sued Prana Film, who then filed bankruptcy to avoid the copyright infringement suit. The court ruling ordered all copies of Nosferatu destroyed. A few prints survived, however, and the film has become known as a masterpiece of German Expressionism.

Max Schreck as the vampire in the classic 1922 silent film Nosferatu
Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok in Nosferatu (1922)

Murnau directed a total of 21 films, including his interpretation of Goethe’s Faust in 1926. 8 of those films have been completely lost to time.

This is not the first time his grave has been disturbed, apparently, and the cemetery is considering sealing his grave.

via The Guardian

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