A wise man sells his soul to Mefistofeles a Satan helper recognizing knowledge will bring no happiness to human life. A German Romanticism' portrait, on how love could overcome reason. Based on the true life of Dr. Johannes Faust, a German alchemist, who is supposed to have been killed when trying to discover the philosopher's stone.
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Horrifying vision of today's 'Faust'
The movie opens with the Herr Doktor cutting open a rotting corpse, declaring that he has looked for man's soul and has found that there is none.
The scene is a microcosm of the film's despairing vision of modern man's immorality, descended into seeing all as mere material. In this world, the old moral code remains only in debased form: good does not exist but evil does. The film's aesthetic is ruled by filth, and everyone's body seems either decaying or malformed (bodies are all they are).
And so too has Faust's famous bargain with the devil been seriously downgraded. Goethe's Faust was foolish but noble: he signed his soul away for knowledge, a mirage of human perfectibility. Sokurov's Faust signs his off without so much as a second thought - and for what? So little! A bit of money and a bit of ass. All here is only bestial (and fleeting) pleasure. There is no longer even a dream of something better. All are selfish, mean and disgusting, loving no one, not even themselves. The film is a nightmarish verdict on modern man: he has given up the better part of himself to live like an animal, and in the end does not even realize what he has done. We the viewer are left to wonder whether there ever was a 'better part' of us at all. However, the one character who seems to recognize the fallen state of things is Faust's father, perhaps an indication that the old generation could still see the devil for what he is. Hardly hopeful, but maybe a sign that modern man's crass materialism and selfishness is not the whole story.
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