Faust
Filmfest 2007

While not as well known today as NOSFERATU or THE LAST LAUGH, FAUST is perhaps director F.W. Murnau‘s masterpiece; few films by any director can match it for the sweeping impact and beauty of its visuals or the power of its storytelling. Murnau approaches Goethe‘s tragedy of a man who learns all too well the price of his soul with appropriately broad dramatic strokes, and if the effect seems a bit over the top in the early reels, it hits with full melodramatic force at the end; the full, horrible impact of Faust‘s comeuppance is as disturbing today as it was in 1926. Mark Deming, All-Movie-Guide One of the most beautifully crafted films ever made. Black-and-white cinematography was redefined in FAUST: this is a film shot in darkness and light. Lotte Eisner's elegiac description sets the mood for Murnau's version of the Faust legend, starring Emil Jannings as the subtly mischievous Mephistopheles, and Swedish actor Gosta Ekman as a subtly homoerotic Faust: "This film starts with the most remarkable and poignant images the German chiaroscuro ever created. The chaotic density of the opening shots, the light dawning in the mists, the rays beaming through the opaque air, are breathtaking... No other director, not even Lang, ever succeeded in conjuring up the supernatural as masterfully as this. The entire town seems to be covered by the vast folds of a demon's cloak (or is it a gigantic, lowering cloud?) as the demoniac forces of darkness prepare to devour the powers of light. Carl Hoffmann's camera gives the terrestrial part of this film extraordinary modeling and has the power of impregnating everything, down to the cloth of a garment, with diabolism..." Theodore Huff: "An Index to the Films of F.W. Murnau", Sight & Sound ...one of greatest achievements of German silent cinema and of the UFA studio in particular. Murnau had carte blanche access to UFA resources to help bring his vision to celluloid. Faust is a triumph of art direction, costume design and makeup. Texture, light and shadow, and movement within the frame are all of upmost importance. Nearly every shot is framed dynamically; either centered to indicate the balance of divinity, otherwise framed in strong angles, tilted framing, and dynamic composition. Nearly every shot indicates the deliberate visual design of director Murnau. Faust features some of the most striking images committed to film, and it is nothing short of a stylistic masterpiece.
Carl Bennett, silentera.com

tags: Feature film

Cast: Gösta Ekman, Emil Jannings, Camilla Horn, Frida Richard, William Dieterle

Credits

Director: F.W. Murnau