The Untold Truth Of Nosferatu

The origins and unmistakable look of “Nosferatu” sprang from the imagination of production designer Albin Grau. As detailed by Fortean Times, Albin Grau was born in 1884 near Leipzig, Germany. A skilled painter, Grau left an apprenticeship as a baker to study at the Leipzig Academy of Art. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the World War I temporarily derailed his ambitions.

After serving as a soldier on the Eastern Front, Grau returned to Germany, where he landed a job as a commercial artist before moving into an industry more in line with his passions. As an artist for Universum Film AG, Germany’s principal film studio of the silent era, Grau created storyboards and concept art for movies.

Aside from art, Grau’s guiding passion was the occult. A longtime practitioner of ritual magic, Grau was a member of several German esoteric groups including the Fraternitas Saturni (the Brotherhood of Saturn). Later in life, Grau was briefly an initiate of the Ordo Templi Orientis, led by the notorious Aleister Crowley. In 1921, Grau established Prana-Film with the sole purpose of producing movies with supernatural themes. Prana’s only production was “Nosferatu,” and although the film’s occult elements are subtle, they’re best exemplified in the scenes showing Orlok’s contract, which is covered in astrological, hermetic, and alchemical sigils.

In the 1930s, Grau’s occult practices put him at odds with Germany’s Nazi government and he was imprisoned at Buchenwald. Grau survived and escaped to Switzerland. Following World War II, he moved to Bavaria, where he died in 1971.

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