Faust (Full Screen) [Import]
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F.W. Murnau's last German production before leaving for Hollywood is a visually dazzling take on the Faust myth. Pushing the resources of the grand old German studio UFA to the limits, Murnau creates an epic vision of good versus evil as devil Emil Jannings tempts an idealistic aging scholar with youth, power, and romance. The handsome but wan Swedish actor Gosta Ekman plays the made-over Faust as a perfectly shallow scoundrel drunk with youth, and the lovely Camilla Horn (in a part written for Lillian Gish) is the young virgin courted, then cast aside, by Faust. The drama falters in the middle with a tedious courtship and bizarre comic interludes, but the delirious images of the opening (Jannings enveloping a mountain town in his dark cloak of evil) and the high melodrama of the climax (Horn desperately clutching her baby while crawling, abandoned and lost, through a snowstorm) triumphs over such shortcomings. The sheer scale of Murnau's epic and the magnificent play of light, shadow, and mist on his exquisitely designed sets makes this one of the most cinematically ambitious, visually breathtaking, and beautiful classics of the silent era. --Sean Axmaker
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The Archangel (Werner Fuetterer) and the evil one are in a struggle for the world. Both are sure they know best. A bet is stuck for the sole of a religious alchemist named Faust as we can see he has knowledge of the elements yet maintains a moral attitude.
A grate plague appears and with all of his books and learning Foust can not save anyone. He turns to prayer and seems to get nowhere. So in a fit he burns his books; in the embers he spots a book that suggests he call on Mephisto (Emil Jannings.) He does so and is repelled at what he did. However after some dickering he accepts a one day contract to at least be able to help some of the plague victims. Naturally he is to reject God and sign in blood. And you guessed it things go wrong. He is tempted by youth, "Your Life was only the dust and mold of books.", and distracted with an Italian cutie Duchess of Parma (Hanna Ralph) just long enough for the sands to run out on him. From there things go down hill but the story heats up.
With the overwhelming visuals and great acting one tends to not notice the elements or threads that tie this film today to our society. Notice the standard circle and the calling upon the four corners as Faust calls three times the name Mephisto. Also notice the garlands that Gretchen made for the children. More interesting is the use of the flower with "She loves me...she loves me not."
Emil Jannings does such a good job that you almost find your self rooting for the bad guy.
The story is simple. It is the story of Faust, a man who sells his soul to the Devil. The movie does slow down in the middle. But the imagry of the beginning and the end are worthy of the finest film crafting of all time.
I taught histoy for many years and an important facet of history is getting and understanding of where the world of today came from. We have cars because 100 years ago people grew fond ofr cars. We have airplanes because 100 years ago people grew to want planes. And we have movies because 100 years ago people made them part of their lives. Faust is one of those beautiful works of art that people love then and can still admire today.
Praise goes to Kino for producing a clear well scored DVD of a work of art for us to study and admire.
The special effects are rudimentary, but boy do they pack some bang for their buck. The camerawork and heavily shadowed lighting lends a sombre and dreamy air to proceedings, and there are certain images, particularly at the beginning of the picture, which are astounding: Murnau's representation of the plague and Faust's invocation of the Devil (it reminded me of the strikingly similar Robert Johnson legend) are especially memorable scenes.
For all that, the middle of the film loses momentum badly. This is mostly not Murnau's fault: the Faust legend doesn't, when you analyse it, make for awfully good cinema. The dramatic impetus is done at the end of the first act. Once Faust has made his pact, it's game over; the rest of the story is just the slow revelation of the enormity of what Faust has done.
Murnau has a go at modifying this to make for a better screenplay, but it doesn't work. The Faust/Gretchen love interest isn't enough to hold up the last hour of the film, and bizarrely (given the decidedly unsettling opening scenes) Emil Jannings plays Mephisto not for dread but for laughs. I suppose that's the only way the Faust story has any credibility - we can believe that a beguiling trickster might pull a fast one on the fundamentally decent Faust, but not a horrible Satanic Majesty.Read more ›
In a world struggling against pestilence, famine, and disease Mephisto decides he can attempt a hostile take-over through a real estate deal. The Archangel Michael agrees, that if Mephisto can win Faust over to his side, he gets the kit and kaboodle. Faust is a tired old doctor/alchemist who is disappointed at his inability to offer healing to those with the rampant-running plague. Soon, he calls on Mephisto and strikes up a deal with him. Mephisto gives him youth and pleasures of the world, until Faust falls for a simple girl.
This film is brilliantly done, with fantastic effects and brilliant storytelling. Some scenes are downright eerie, like Mephisto standing over the town with ravens wings. Emil Jennings plays a brilliant Mephisto, somewhere between the brilliant humor of mythical Loki and the dark evil vision of Zarathrustra's Angra Mainyu. Gösta Ekman is brilliant as Faust as well, from withered old man to young libertine, he shows talent rarely seen on the screen in recent time.
Though there aren't a lot of features on this disc, (including a nice photo gallery, a link to Kino's website, and scene selection), the print is beautiful for its age, and the music recently recorded and very appropriate. The price is a little high, but your not purchasing a sad copy for a few bucks, but a masterpiece both in original content and painstaking preservation. This film is worthy of being in any collection interest in great filmmaking.
Most recent customer reviews
For all intents and purposes, this is THE silent film to own, if one can own just one. It has everything. Drama, special effects, comedy, allegory, myth, good vs evil. Read morePublished on June 21 2004 by Polkadotty
I'm not a silent film buff. But the story of Faust was enough of a temptation. The black and white photography, alone, makes this worth watching. Read morePublished on Oct. 5 2003 by Thomas Lapins
Goethe's FAUST means for german-speaking countries what HAMLET means to the English-speaking world: the terror of schoolchildren forced to write essays and memorize its most famous... Read morePublished on March 2 2003 by Eva25at
For the most part I have little to add to what others have written - it's a beautiful film, essential viewing, and it looks great on this DVD. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2001
This film is ripe for reassessment as among the best silent films ever made and a true work of art. Unfortunately, most silent films are rarely seen outside of a small group of... Read morePublished on Aug. 2 2001 by Culbert Laney
Kino has just released the new DVD stroboscopic light show from the silent German era, "Faust", directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe, or F.W. Murnau. Read morePublished on July 10 2001 by Brad Baker
Absolutely! Words are totally superfluous - this is a prime example of CINEMATIC ART.
It is CAMILLA HORN who shines in this production. Read more
Murnau's interpretation of Goethe's brilliant epic is by far his best film. Ever overshadowed by the more popular "Nosferatu," "Faust" shows a creativity and... Read morePublished on June 14 2001 by Benjamin Scott
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