12 May 2012 4:41 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

This ponderous movie is regarded by its writer-director, the talented Russian mystic Alexander Sokurov, as the concluding section of a quartet of films on the subject of the corrupting effects of power, following on from his biographical studies of Hitler (Moloch), Lenin (Taurus) and the emperor Hirohito (The Sun). It won the Golden Lion at Venice last year but is a dull affair, made in German, set in 18th-century central Europe, shot in the Czech Republic and Iceland. It has the impoverished, lugubrious scholar Faust pursuing the meaning of life and taking up with Mauritius, a grotesquely repellent version of Mephistopheles. Mauritius works as the town's pawnbroker and moneylender and reveals during one of his pointless romps with Faust to have his penis attached to his backside. After much rambling talk, Faust sells his soul to Mauritius in order to have sex with the local beauty, Margarete. He signs the »

- Philip French

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