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Faust (1926)

Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy, Horror | 6 December 1926 (USA)
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
Edit

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 | Add 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

Karl Freund originally signed on as cinematographer for the film, but he was forced to drop out due to illness. He was replaced by F.W. Murnau's preferred cameraman, Carl Hoffmann. See more »

Quotes

Faust: I call thee for help, O Spirit of Darkness: Show thyself! Come forth, evil demon! I call to thee as thou callest thyself, by thy unholy name: MEMPHISTO, appear!
See more »

Connections

Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Fatale beauté (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Liebe. Real Humane Emotions.
5 June 2010 | by Ilpo HirvonenSee all my reviews

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau was the most important director of the German expressionism era. He made 22 films from which only 11 have persisted. Murnau often made several different versions of his films, which made it impossible to tell which was the original one. Faust was no exception; he made 9 different versions of it whose editing, rhythm and acting differ from each other. F.W. Murnau did a lot of breakthroughs in cinema - he's the most influential filmmaker of his time. For instance in his earlier film Der Letzte Mann (1924, The Last Laugh) Murnau used the camera as a character for the very first time. It was the first time the audience couldn't tell when you were watching the events as an outsider and when as a character. Faust is no lesser. Eric Rohmer has written about it in his dissertation and Herman G. Weinberg saw Faust as the most beautiful film ever made.

Everybody knows the German writer Goethe who wrote Faust. But the story did live before his play. It lived as a folktale. And this is where the critics did wrong. They thought that Murnau's Faust was a fiasco; probably because they tried to compare it to the original play. But F.W. Murnau did Faust (1926) based on the folktale. So the philosophy of Goethe's Faust was left away. The production company (UFA) of Faust also produced another artistic film, Metropolis by Fritz Lang. When the audience didn't like either of these films the company failed.

Faust is a story about God and Satan who wager. A man, Faust, agrees to sell his soul to Satan so he can have all the power of the world. First he wants to use the power to help the diseased people but the temptations of eternal youth and beauty win. "Damned be the illusion of youth!" Faust is a timeless story because the idea of selling one's soul will always be there. Faustic contracts are still made. There is only one thing that can terminate the contract. Liebe - Love. The flaming word appears on the screen to assure us. Earlier I mentioned the new camera-work of The Last Laugh. But Faust did something new too. It was the first film that was based on the metaphorical force of light and shadow. The use of shadows in Faust is symbolic and brilliant. When talking about light and Murnau one might be reminded of Nosferatu (1922), a Gothic vampire story by F.W. Murnau, where the beams of light killed Nosferatu.

Faust deals with essential and timeless themes. On the surface the themes are good and evil but Faust is much more complex than that. I would recommend this masterpiece of the German Expressionism to all film lovers. I wouldn't be surprised if one said that Faust is the best film ever made. F.w. Murnau manages to capture real humane emotions.


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