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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.
Faust has quite rightly fallen under everyone's radar. I had never heard of it, until I saw it in a list someone made. It looked interesting, and then I read that it made one of my all time favourite directors, Darren Aronofsky cry. He has also infamously stated that Faust is the kind of film that has the power to change your life, or something along those lines. I then watched the trailer and it looked intense, powerful and not too much unlike Darren's own operatic masterpiece, Black Swan, which happens to be possibly my favourite film of all time. Thus of course I was sold. I bought the film on blu ray for £6.26 and was extremely excited to give it a watch. I went into Faust very open-minded. More than open-minded because I was honestly looking forward to it, I was expecting a beautifully intense and dream-like film, but unfortunately that is not what I received.
The highest point in Faust is the brilliant opening shot which gracefully glides through the sky, where a mirror is bizarrely floating. We then pass underneath the clouds to reveal some awesome mountains and a village. It's a brilliant shot, reminiscent of Baz Luhrman's Moulin Rouge! We then get a nice close-up of a dead man's penis and some grisly depictions of an autopsy. It's here that the film slowly goes downhill, or rather curiously meanders down a dull path which should hopefully cure anyone of insomnia. A lot of reviewers seem concerned that the film is not a direct re-telling of the Faust legend. Unluckily for me, I have never read or seen anything to do with Goethe's Faust, which is a shame because it may have helped me to understand what was going on, as I was sometimes lost.
My first problem with the film is that it has been unnecessarily boxed up. By this I mean that the film has black bands either side of the screen, which makes it more difficult to appreciate one of it's biggest redeeming features, the visuals. I don't see the point in doing this, unless it's only on the UK blu ray version of the film, which by the way, is not blu ray quality! It's also very easy to get lost in the film, and not in a good David Lynch kind of way, but a tedious way. I watch a lot of subtitled films, because I have a passion for foreign cinema, but even I found it difficult to keep up with. Someone is always talking at quite a brisk pace, meaning that you've got to keep up with the subtitles, meaning that a lot of the visuals get lost. The dialogue is also quite boringly pretentious with talks about philosophy and the like.
However, if you strip back the story of the film there really isn't too much to it. It's just about a man who befriends an old man (who I think is supposed to be the devil) and he randomly falls for a young bereaved woman, and decides to sign his soul away in order to spend a night with her. But for some reason the film has been ludicrously padded out to 2 hours 20 minutes (it feels longer). Much of the film just follows Faust as he plods around with the devil, who rambles on for non-stop about things I don't entirely understand. It's the walking equivalent to a road movie, only nothing very interesting happens. I found much of it very boring, but I stuck with it.
Faust isn't all bad though. It's at its most interesting when it's using surrealism to a bizarre and sometime unsettling effect. There's a monkey on the moon, an old man with a body like Danny De Vito in Batman Returns and a small person in a jar made from the liver of a donkey. Unfortunately these moments are few and far between. The film is much more interesting in lecturing the audience through boring characters who don't really develop or interest in any way. The film is also very often fantastic to look at. I loved how the film looked like it had all the colours drained from it and the locations were rich with period detail. The costumes were also lavish. The production values are actually quite excellent for an unknown German film. Unfortunately the screenplay isn't.
Faust isn't the most boring film I've ever seen, but then again you're reading a review written by a poor chap who has sat through such cinematic stimulation as Import/Export and Uzak. Two of the most boring films on the planet. Faust doesn't come close to the level of boredom they caused, but if you've seen them then you'll know that that really isn't saying a lot. Faust is boring and has little plot or characters that capture your attention. It does have sporadic moments of creativity and surrealism, but there aren't enough of these moments to warrant it being watched. I think it's a film strictly for pseuds. Unfortunately I failed to find it intense, powerful or life changing. Ironically Faust is a film with no soul, or perhaps that's the point. I don't know. All I know is that I wasted £6.
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