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Faust (1926)

Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage (original title)
The demon Mephisto wagers with God that he can corrupt a mortal man's soul.

Director:

F.W. Murnau

Writers:

Gerhart Hauptmann (titles), Hans Kyser (titles) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Gösta Ekman ... Faust (as Gösta Ekmann)
Emil Jannings ... Mephisto
Camilla Horn ... Gretchen / Marguerite
Frida Richard Frida Richard ... Gretchens Mutter / Marguerite's Mother (as Frieda Richard)
William Dieterle ... Valentin: Gretchens Bruder / Marguerite's Brother (as Wilhelm Dieterle)
Yvette Guilbert ... Marthe Schwerdtlein: Gretchens Tante / Marguerite's Aunt
Eric Barclay ... Herzog von Parma / Duke of Parma (as Eric Barcley)
Hanna Ralph ... Herzogin von Parma / Duchess of Parma
Werner Fuetterer ... Erzengel / Archangel
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Storyline

God and Satan war over earth; to settle things, they wager on the soul of Faust, a learned and prayerful alchemist. During a plague, Faust despairs and burns his books after failing to stop death; Satan sends Mephisto to tempt Faust, first with insight into treating the plague and then with a day's return to youth. Mephisto is clever, timing the end of this 24 hours as Faust embraces the beautiful Duchess of Parma. Faust trades his soul for youth. Some time later, he's bored, and demands on Easter Sunday that Mephisto take him home. Faust promptly sees and falls in love with the beautiful Gretchen, whose liaison with him brings her dishonor. Is there redemption? Who wins the wager? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

NEVER before has the screen revealed a spectacle of such size and impressiveness as in the epic production. The world-famous story of fate and temptation, renowned as an opera, has now been dramatically immortalized in a picture which can be truly called great. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

6 December 1926 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Faust See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universum Film (UFA) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(1997 restored)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »

Quotes

Erzengel: Get back! Halt! Why dost thou torture humanity with war, plague and famine?
Mephisto: The earth is mine!
Erzengel: The earth will never be thine! Man is good: His spirit strives for truth!
See more »

Connections

Remake of Faust and Marguerite (1904) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A magnificent spectacle; one of cinema's finest
9 January 2005 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

F.W. Murnau's telling of the classic German legend, 'Faust' is a masterpiece to behold. From both the technical and story standpoint, the film excels and despite being nearly eighty years old, Faust still stands tall as one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time. F.W. Murnau has become best known among film fans for 'Nosferatu', but this is unfair to the man. While Nosferatu is something of an achievement; it pales in comparison to this film in every respect. Faust is far more extravagant than Murnau's vampire tale, and it shows his technical brilliance much more effectively. The story is of particular note, and it follows a German alchemist by the name of Faust. As God and Satan war over Earth, the Devil preaches that he will be able to tempt Faust into darkness and so has a wager with God to settle things. Satan sends Mephisto to Earth to offer Faust an end to the plague that is making it's way through the local population, and eternal youth, in return for Faust's soul...

The way that Murnau creates the atmosphere in the film is nothing short of amazing. The lighting and use of shadows is superb, and helps to create a strong sense of dread at the same time as making the film incredibly easy on the eyes. It's the music that's the real star of the show, however, as it's absolutely fantastic and easily ranks up with the greatest scores ever written. The scenery is expressionistic and gives the film a strong sense of beauty (which is increased by the excellent cinematography), especially in the darker scenes; all of which are an absolute delight to behold. The story is undoubtedly one of the most important ever written, and within it is themes of good, evil, religion and most importantly, love. The points are never hammered home, and instead they are allowed to emancipate from the centre of the tale, which allows the audience to see them for themselves rather than being told; and that's just the way a story should be.

It's hard to rate the acting in silent cinema as being a member of a modern audience, I'm used to actors acting with dialogue and judging a performance without that is difficult. However, on the other hand; silent acting is arguably more difficult than acting with dialogue as the only way to portray your feelings to the audience is through expressions and gestures, and in that respect; acting is just another area where this film excels. In fact, there isn't an area that this film doesn't excel in and for that reason; it easily ranks up with the greatest films ever committed to the screen.


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