Dir: F.W. Murnau
January 17, 2010
You know the story right? A deal with the devil. Whether it's Goethe or Marlowe, everyone knows the scope. The atmosphere of the tale is perfect for the someone like Murnau, who always had a knack for the more fantastical aspects of the subconscious; where the real world and the dream world dovetail. It gets a little held up in melodrama towards the middle, but so what. That's what people wanted, so it was probably thrown in by producers. This is a complete vision for Murnau. One of the greatest acts of production design I've ever seen. Every shot, every model, every set, every costume, every lighting setup is absolutely unified in creating a tangible, visionary work of dread. A picture review seems appropriate for this type of film:
The demons in Murnau's nightmares become the Legions of the Dead. Exprssionism at it's best.
Angels vs. demons. So much better than Angels and Demons.
One of the most memorable shots of the silent cinema; Mephisto (Emil Jannings), spreading his wings over a small town in Germany, in what has to be one of the finest special effects shots ever conceived.
Faust (Gosta Ekman) knows about planets and alchemy. Not curing plague or resisting temptation.
I went down to the crossroads...to summon the devil...
...watch me make out.
Young Faust (Ekman) thinking about how the plodding middle part really isn't that good. Unhelpfully, the Devil finds this hilarious.
More paintorial composition from Murnau. Gretchen's (Camilla Horn) only crime is to cach the eye of Faust, who taints all with the Devil's corruption. Horn replaced Murnau's first choice female lead, original movie babe Lillian Gish.
Can this much pleading save her? Faust answers the call...
...only to be burned with his beloved on a pre-Joan of Arc (1928) pyre. But that's the power...the power of love...but is that enough?
Yes. Yes it is. "I'm a winner. The film's a winner. But you, Mephisto...you're just a loser. Look how much higher my cross is than your stupid blood contract."
"You didn't read this, did you?"