The Murnau Foundation looks after a unique, comprehensive stock of films. It
comprises copies and materials and includes the corresponding rights from over
eight decades of German film production - from the first moving pictures
in 1895 through to the early 1960s.
Extensive work was carried out over a period of many years to finally make
this film heritage available in a technically optimal quality and with comprehensive
Since the founding of the Murnau Foundation in 1966, the majority of the stocks
have been securely restored, preserved and made available to the public.
This sounds easier than it actually is. The task was, and still is, to complete
and restore film material in co-operation with national and international archives,
films for which there are often only fragments in existence and which are frequently
at different locations.
Work ranges from simple re-copying with small technical repairs, restoration combined
with interventions into the contents, through to the reconstruction of incomplete
The stocks of films are stored in specially equipped archives in Wiesbaden
and - held in trust - at the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv
(Federal Archive-Film Archive) in Koblenz and Berlin.
As the legal successor to the former production companies Ufa, Universum-Film,
Bavaria, Terra, Tobis and Berlin-Film, the Murnau Foundation owns approximately
2,000 silent movies and 1,000 talkies. The inventory of films to which
the foundation owns the legal rights also includes about 3,000 short films (including
advertisements, cultural films and documentaries) of great cultural and historical
In addition to the stocks of films, the archives hold 60,000 photographs, posters
and other advertising materials. The collection also incorporates scripts, dialogue
lists and industry literature including trade journals.
The Murnau Foundation also holds and provides access to extensive records about
the films, which reflect the history of a production from its creation right through
to its current use.
Furthermore, the foundation collects, maintains and documents material and
rights to other films of cultural and historical significance.
Numerous holders of rights entrust their films to the Murnau Foundation. These
films are also - with the consent of the owners - made accessible to the public.
The Murnau Foundation currently holds approximately 20,000 different titles in
And last, but most certainly not least, the Murnau Foundation keeps films in
trust for numerous distributors, generally movies that are not currently being
marketed. These stocks kept in trust are a unique source of material for licensees
looking to utilise it for future projects.