Carl Mayer (Graz, November 20, 1894 – London, 1 July 1944), Austrian film screenwriter. Its working with Robert Florey and F. w. Murnau consecrated him as one of the most important figures of German Expressionism.


His father, player bag, suicide is leaving his family in ruin. Mayer had to leave school at age 15 and exercise multiple offices to support his family. He then moved to Vienna, where he began his career as playwright. During the First world war became a pacifist. In 1917, he went to Berlin. He worked at the Residenztheater Eugen Roberts Assistant. There he met Gilda Langer, an actress, and fell in love with her. Wrote the screenplay for the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari next to Hans Janowitz and Langer thought for the female role, but actress died unexpectedly in 1920.

Finally, the script was filmed by Robert Florey and starring Werner Krauß, Conrad Veidt and Lil Dagover. The film was a great success and became a renowned screenwriter Mayer. The same year began working with F. w. Murnau. His first work together was the dancer and the hunchback (1920). Carried out in collaboration eight films. The meetings were the last (1924) and tartufo (film) (1925), both with Emil Jannings, and breaking dawn (1927), United States. Mayer wrote the screenplay in Germany, refusing to move to Hollywood. In 1927 he wrote the screenplay of Berlin: Symphony of a great city, of Walter Ruttmann, one of the fundamental works of that period. Linked especially to the so-called German Expressionism, Mayer restless spirit led him to explore different aesthetics and genres: the work Expressionism (Caligari) Summit, the intimate story (the last one) and the documentary (Berlin…)

Fled nazi persecution – Jewish – was in 1933. Exile in London. Worked as a counselor at the British film industry, but his project of shooting a documentary in United Kingdom was unsuccessful. In 1942 she was diagnosed with cancer, illness from which he died in 1944. Poor and forgotten, left only 23 pounds and two books.

Carl Mayer was most original writer of his generation.

Selected filmography

* The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), of Robert Florey.

* Der Bucklige und die Tänzerin (The hunchback and dancer) (1920), F. w. Murnau’s.

* Genuine (1920), of Robert Florey.

* Schloß Vogeloed (The enchanted castle) F. w. Murnau (1921).

* The last (1924), in F. w. Murnau, with Emil Jannings.

* Herr Tartüff (Tartuffe) (1925), F. w. Murnau, with Emil Jannings’s.

* Dawn (1927), F. w. Murnau’s.

* Berlin: Symphony of a great city (1927), of Walter Ruttman.

* 4 devils (The four Devils) (1928), F. w. Murnau’s.

* Das Blaue Licht (Light blue) (1932), from Leni Riefenstahl (discredited)


* Michael Omasta, Brigitte Mayr, Christian Cargnelli (eds.): Carl Mayer: Ein Script von MMI war schon ein Film (A Script by Carl Mayer Was Already a Film), Vienna: Synema, 2003, ISBN 3-901644-10-5 (German/English)