A key adaptation of Goethe's classic. The last film Murnau shot in Germany is still an Expressionist favorite.


The demon Mephisto has a bet with an Archangel that he can corrupt a righteous man's soul and destroy in him what is divine. If he succeeds, the Devil will win dominion over the earth. The Demon chooses Faust, an elderly alchemist of a village, as the victim of this bet.

Faust was Murnau's last German film, and directly afterward, he moved to the US under contract to William Fox to direct Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927); when the film premiered in the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin, Murnau was already shooting in Hollywood. It has been praised for its special effects and is regarded as an example of German Expressionist film.

Murnau's Faust was the most technically elaborate and expensive production undertaken by Ufa until it was surpassed by Metropolis the following year. Filming took six months, at a cost of 2 million marks (only half was recovered at the box office). According to film historians, Faust seriously affected studio shooting and special effects techniques. The intertitles were written by Hans Kyser, a German novelist, and playwright who had moved into screenwriting. He decided to combine various lines from the original folk tale, Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Goethe's Faust. However, his efforts were disliked by the Ufa production team, and Gerhart Hauptmann, one of Germany's leading playwrights and winner of the Nobel prize for literature, was engaged instead.

Faust was a "financial flop." German critics disliked the adaptation from its source texts and Gosta Ekman's performance. In later years, the film has been called one of seven "canonical examples of German Expressionist cinema." A 2006 review in The New York Times called it "one of the most astonishing visual experiences the silent cinema has to offer."

Murnau's Faust was the most technically elaborate and expensive production undertaken by Ufa until it was surpassed by Metropolis the following year. 

The Soundtrack

Caspervek's Soundtrack for Faust was composed for its premiere at the "Nun Local Festival" in Vigo in 2016. It has been the only performance of the piece so far. The score shows a mixture of the characteristic elements of the band's music: minimalism, contemporary, folk, medieval music, pre-recorded electronics, and field recordings.


Episode

Details

  • Director

    F. W. Murnau

  • Writer

    Hans Kyser
    J. W. Goethe (novel)

  • Runtime

    100 min

  • Year

    1926

  • Country

    Germany

  • Company

    U. F. A.

  • Genre

    Drama. Fantasy


Cast

Emil Jannings

Gösta Ekman

Camilla Horn


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