Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927, dir. F.W. Murnau)
Emil Jannings, as the demon Mephisto, spreads his wings over the Earth & sows the seeds of plague in Faust (1926, dir. F. W. Murnau)
Max Schreck relaxing between takes & creeping everyone out on the set of Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror(1922, dir. F.W. Murnau) (via)
During the filming of Nosferatu, Schreck reportedly stayed in character at all times, even when the cameras weren’t rolling, and the cast and crew never saw him out of full makeup and costume. While this immersive approach to acting is commonplace now, it was unusual back then and his appearance & behavior led to wild rumors that Schreck actually was a vampire. If this photo is indicative of Schreck’s demeanor around the set of Nosferatu, the crew’s wariness was entirely understandable.
Werner Fuetterer as the Archangel in Faust (1926, dir. F. W. Murnau)
“I think Murnau’s imperturbable calm in the studio was due not only to a sense of discipline, but also because he possessed that passion for ‘play’ itself which is necessary and essential to any kind of artistic activity.
For instance, I’d made a steam apparatus for the heaven scene in the Prologue to Faust. Steam was ejected out of several pipes against a background of clouds; arc-lights arranged in a circle lit up the steam to look like rays of light. The archangel was supposed to stand in front and raise his flaming sword. We did it several times, and each time it was perfectly all right, but Murnau was so caught up in the pleasure of doing it that he forgot all about time. The steam had to keep on billowing through the beams of light until the archangel — Werner Fuetterer — was so exhausted he could no longer lift his sword. When Murnau realized what had happened, he shook his head and laughed at himself, then gave everyone a break.”
-Faust art director Robert Herlth, quoted in Lotte Eisner’s Murnau. The scene Herlth is discussing is online here.
Behind the scenes of The Blackguard (1925, dir. Graham Cutts) Art direction by Alfred Hitchcock
When Hitchcock arrived on the set of The Blackguard, the great German director F.W. Murnau was filming The Last Laugh nearby on the UFA lot.
Hitchcock either engaged Murnau in conversation, or overheard him tell others: “What you see on the set does not matter. All that matters is what you see on the screen.”
Hitchcock never missed an opportunity to quote this remark, which became a cornerstone of his own approach: The reality didn’t matter if the illusion was effective. He then emulated Murnau by hiring a slew of dwarves to stand far from the camera in The Blackguard, creating an artificial perspective for a crowd scene.
-excerpted from Patrick McGilligan’s Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light