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Albin Grau (December 22, 1884 - March 27, 1971) was a German artist, architect and occultist, and the producer and production designer for F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu. He was largely responsible for the look and spirit of the film, including the sets, costumes, storyboards and promotional materials.
A lifelong student of the occult and member of Fraternitas Saturni, Grau was able to imbue Nosferatu with hermetic and mystical undertones. One example in particular was the cryptic contract that Count Orlok and Knock exchanged, which was filled in Enochian, hermetic and alchemical symbols. Grau was also a strong influence on Orlok's verminous and emaciated look. Grau had originally gotten the idea of shooting a vampire film while serving in the German Army during World War I, when a Serbian farmer told him that his father was a vampire and one of the Undead.
Before Grau and Murnau collaborated on Nosferatu, Grau was planning to create several movies devoted to the occult and supernatural through his studio, Prana Film. Since Nosferatu was a loose and unauthorized translation of Bram Stoker's Dracula Prana had to declare bankruptcy in order to evade infringement lawsuits. This made Nosferatu its one and only release.
After Fraternitas Saturni was prohibited in 1936 by the Nazi regime, Albin Grau was threatened by persecution but managed to emigrate to Switzerland.
After the war, he returned to Germany and lived in Bayrischzell, Upper Bavaria, until his death in 1971.
In popular culture
Albin Grau was one of the main characters in the fictionalized movie account of the filming of Nosferatu, titled Shadow of the Vampire (2000), directed by American filmmaker E. Elias Merhige. He was played by Udo Kier.
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