4 items from 2012
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
Sokurov's version of Goethe's tragedy is part bad dream, part music-less opera, with hallucinatory flashes of fear
Aleksandr Sokurov's Faust is a version of Goethe's tragedy that won the Golden Lion at last year's Venice film festival; it is being presented as the last part of a "cinematic tetralogy" with three earlier films, Moloch (1999) about Hitler, Taurus (2001) about Lenin and The Sun (2005) about Hirohito. Generally, when directors claim this, it is a transparent ploy to shift the back-catalogue DVDs, but this surely can't be true of such a distinguished film-maker, and there is some dramatic interest in linking fictional Faust with three historical figures, each pondering power, destiny, heaven and hell.
The Austrian actor Johannes Zeiler is Faust, dissecting grisly corpses in a vaguely delineated central Europe in what looks like the 16th century of Marlowe's Faustus. He is brooding over the location of the soul (perhaps »
- Peter Bradshaw
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Aleksandr Sokurov’s four-part meditation on the interplay between power and evil comes to a close with Faust, a challenging, dense take on Goethe’s famed text. With the previous three parts focusing on the travails of historical figures – Moloch on Hitler, Taurus on Lenin and The Sun on Hirohito – Faust might seem like a peculiar post-script, especially when it unfolds like a spiritual prequel, revealing just a little about what might have driven these men to unthinkable behaviours.
Sokurov’s film – which won the Golden Lion at least year’s Venice Film Festival – keenly plays fast and loose with the source material, changing plot structure, character machinations and location, rendering the project, for better and for worse, very much his own. The core premise of course remains the same; the well-meaning if frustrated Doctor Faust (Johannes Zeiler) visits a cantankerous moneylender (Anton Adasinsky), and after signing in his own blood, »
- Shaun Munro
★★★★☆ Making its way to UK cinemas eight months on from its Golden Lion win at last year's Venice Film Festival, Alexander Sokurov's Faust (2011) has lost little of its enigmatic zeal in the interim period. Critical opinion has been somewhat divided on this final chapter in the Russian director's tetralogy (which includes 1999's Moloch, 2000's Taurus and 2005's The Sun), yet for all its over-ambition and debatable inaccessibility, this unique take on Goethe's classic tale remains one of the most mesmeric, hypnotic cinematic experiences of the last twelve months.
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4 items from 2012
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