Sehnsucht (lost F.W Murnau German silent horror film, 1921)

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Desire poster2.jpg

Poster for Desire (1921)

Status: Lost

Sehnsucht (or Desire in English) is a silent German horror film directed by F.W Murnau (Most famous for directing the films Nosferatu and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans). It was released in February 1921 and goes by different names depending on the region, known as Nostalgia in Italy, Desire in the USA, Sehnsucht or Bajazzo in Germany, and Longning in other areas.[1][2]

The film was likely produced by Mosch-Film and was distributed by Lipow Film,[3] with a crew that may have included screenwriter Carl Heinz Jarosy, cinematographer Carl Hoffman, and Art Director Robert Neppach (however, this is mostly unconfirmed).

The film would have had German intertitles throughout the film similar to those seen in other silent films from the era.

Plot Synopsis

Ivan (Conrad Veidt), a poor Russian student, lives in Switzerland, studying either art or dancing. He was unexpectedly invited to Russia by a distant relative, Princess Wirsky (Gussy Holl?).

He longs to accept the invite and return home; however, he does not have the funds to make such a journey. Therefore, to help finance the trip, he takes on work as a messenger for revolutionaries (or nihilists, depending on the source) who want to depose Grand Duke Wirsky.

In Moscow, he delivers the message and falls in love with Marja (Margarete Schlegel), the daughter of the revolutionary. Marja’s father loves Princess Wirsky and wants to betray the revolutionaries. The princess falls in love with Ivan and jealously deports Marja to Siberia. In revenge, Ivan strangles the princess. He spends the rest of his life yearning for Marja, whom he has never kissed. When he receives the news of Marja’s death, he commits suicide.[4][5]


As of 2020, it is believed to be a lost film as no prints are known to exist.


Cast Member Role
Conrad Veidt Ivan
Gussy Holl Drand Duchess
Margarete Schlegel Marja
Ellen Bolan Dancer
Eugen Klöpfer Unknown Role
Paul Graetz Unknown Role
Helene Gray Unknown Role
Danny Gürtler Unknown Role
Albert Bennefeld Unknown Role
Marcela Gremo Unknown Role
Hubert von Meyerinck Unknown Role



  1. SilentEra
  2. The book which SilentEra cite as their reference for much of their information on the film, I can't find a copy online to check though
  3. BFI Entry (Sehnscucht)
  4. Movie Database Synopsis
  5. Murnau by Lotte H. Eisner Page 130 has a short entry on the film, backed up by Gussy Holl

External Links