- Leblanc, arl dealer
Karl W. Freund was born in Koniginhof, Bohemia, in what later became Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), in 1890. He entered the film industry as a projectionist in 1907, but his interests lay in the other end of the business and the lens, and a year later he joined the Berlin branch of Pathé Films as a newsreel cameraman. He spent the next six years as a newsreel photographer, until he encountered a brief interruption with the outbreak of the First World War. However, even at the relatively young age of 24, he carried a substantial girth that made him unsuitable for military service; 90 days after being called up, he was a civilian again, and back working in movies. Even during this early phase of his career, Freund displayed an adventurous nature within his profession and a fascination with technological advances that put him at the cutting edge of cinematography.
Freund joined Germany's Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft (UFA), and was involved with such notable productions as Richard Oswald's The Arc (1919), during which he met the actress Gertrude Hoffman, who would become his wife. That same year, Freund worked for the first time with directors Fritz Lang (Spiders, Part 1), Ernst Lubitsch (Rausch), and F.W. Murnau (The Blue Boy, aka Emerald of Death). All of these films were well photographed, but there were a handful on which he distinguished himself sufficiently to begin attracting an international reputation -- among them were Der Golem (1920), co-directed by Carl Boese and Paul Wegener, and Murnau's The Last Laugh (1924).