Third part in Aleksandr Sokurov's quadrilogy of Power, following Moloch (1999) and Taurus (2001), focuses on Japanese Emperor Hirohito and Japan's defeat in World War II when he is finally confronted by General Douglas MacArthur who offers him to accept a diplomatic defeat for survival.
A 19th century French aristocrat, notorious for his scathing memoirs about life in Russia, travels through the Russian State Hermitage Museum and encounters historical figures from the last 200+ years.
A father and his son live together in a roof-top apartment. They have lived alone for years in their own private world, full of memories and daily rites. Sometimes they seem like brothers. ... See full summary »
From a misty night into the dark exposition rooms of a museum to ponder philosophically at paintings by 'Pieter Jansz Saenredam', 'Hercules Pieterszoon Seghers', Hendrikus van de Sande ... See full summary »
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.
Well, I have to admit that I've never been much of a fan of Sokurov's work. Rather on the contrary, I've considered all of his films which I've seen fairly tedious. But, as in the case of 'Russian Ark', one cannot deny his talent for opulent visuals and creative camera movement. However, how one could possibly deem this very loose adaptation of 'Faust' laudable is completely beyond me - because there are far superior film versions of this well-known story, first and foremost among them Murnau's.
What has always bothered me about Sokurov is derogatory treatment of female characters and use of superfluous or gruesome details - in this case best exemplified by the opening shot of a man's penis, then revealed to be that of a corpse in the process of being harvested by Faust for research. Or a totally unnecessary scene involving two drunken Russians. All women here are mere furniture, especially Gretchen, who hardly appears enough to merit even a reduction to an object of desire. Instead, there are endless interchanges between a bewildered, impoverished Faust and a less-than-impressive Mephisto, who is portrayed more as a salesman than a demon, thereby depriving the tale of much of its zest, and unduly limiting the means of expression of the actor - definitely the worst Mephistopheles I've ever seen on either screen or stage.
What I find absolutely unforgivable though is the altered ending, which takes excessive liberty with the tale as it is - and I'm not talking about Goethe, even though it is already quite preposterous to title the film as an adaptation of Goethe's Faust, and then but quote a few lines from the play. While art, of course, is at liberty to interpret the lore of culture freely, one cannot let Romeo and Juliet live, for instance, because then the whole point of the story is gone.
That is pretty much what Sokurov does to Faust here - for the sake of demonstrating his ability as a director, he changes the entire story to the extent of being unidentifiable, with no regard to the audience, or just about any definition of taste. Unfortunately, such creative sadism meets with the masochism of entrenched festival juries, preferring the old and tiresome over the young and relevant, which to me is about the only explanation how this self-indulgent, boring, dreadful piece could win the Golden Lion - notwithstanding the fact that this award has already lost much of its luster.
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