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Doctor Faustus

44 customer reviews

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(Mar 02, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Of the many films they made together, nowhere is the seductive power of Richard Burton (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and Elizabeth Taylor (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) better showcased than in this brilliant adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s classic play, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. First dramatized in the 16th century, the legend of Doctor Faustus is the immortal tale of a German conjurer who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for a life of adventure and excitement. It has proved to be one of the richest legends of our time, inspiring countless plays and motion pictures. In this classic version, Burton stars as the aging scholar who makes a deal with the devil for youth, knowledge and a dazzling mistress. But when Faustus begins to regret his decision, the devil's assistant, Mephistophilis, sends Taylor as the spellbinding seductress who seals Faustus’s fate. This lasting achievement is distinguished by its visual beauty and the great performances of Richard Burton a

An adaptation of the Christopher Marlowe masterpiece, Doctor Faustus allows Richard Burton (who also co-directed) to sink his teeth into one of the great theater roles, with loyal wife Elizabeth Taylor along for the ride. Now, there were a few good movies and many follies born of the epic marriage of Burton and Taylor; Faustus is one of their most curious progeny. Alas, Burton's performance is hardly scaled back from a big, bellowing stage turn, while elsewhere the film fails to work up the most rudimentary cinematic life. And Liz? She keeps appearing, wordlessly, as a sexed-up dream temptation for poor Faustus, and finally as Helen of Troy, of "Is this the face that launched a thousand ships?" fame. The only real fun to be had here is wondering whether Burton saw the project as a metaphor for his own career: a man who sold his soul in return for earthly pleasures... as embodied by Elizabeth Taylor. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Andreas Teuber, Oxford University Dramatic Society
  • Directors: Richard Burton, Nevill Coghill
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Georgian
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 2, 2004
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00018D3PU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,227 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Doctor Faustus" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Justin Playfair on February 28, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This 1960's film featuring typical sets from the period does rather well with Marlowe's original play of the tragic decision made by a German professor to sell his soul in exchange for 4 and 20 years of self gratification. As in the original play, it is a very erudite work and features players from Oxford University as well as Burton at the height of his powers and his famous love for Elizabeth Taylor projected here in the role of Helen of Troy. A wonderful and haunting score in the opening credits and throughout the movie adds to the flavor of this intellectual delight. (The score is available on CD if you know where to look) This movie is DEEP. VERY DEEP! With lines such as "Settle thy studies Faustus, and begin to sound the depth of that thou wilt profess" Have a Latin dictionary nearby and don't let your attention wander! This movie is best seen at about 1:30AM, which is when it was usually shown on television! All kidding aside this is an interesting work and well worth your investment and time. Burton was a #1 box office draw in this era and Dr. Faustus will demonstrate why.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robin Simmons VINE VOICE on March 19, 2004
Format: DVD
Richard Burton stars and co-directed this idiosyncratic production of DOCTOR FAUSTUS (Columbia Tristar), Christopher Marlowe's 16th century masterpiece about an aging German scholar who makes a deal with the devil for youth, knowledge, and a dazzling mistress (Elizabeth Taylor in a silent role as Helen of Troy). Filmed in the UK with supporting performances from the Oxford University Dramatic Society, this disc works better as an audio play. The music is effective and the mellifluous voice of Burton is a wonder. Now where's the uncut Brit version of Ken Russell's THE DEVILS?
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Brian E. Erland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 9, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
`Doctor Faustus', the '68 re-visioning of the Faustus/Mephistophelian Mythos produced, directed and starring Richard Burton is somewhat of a mixed bag, moving from immensely satisfying to plodding and back again. Burton is perfect as Doctor John Faustus, the ultimate Renaissance man whose thirst for knowledge takes him beyond the confines of conventional wisdom into the forbidden mysteries which can only be accessed by a pact with the Devil in exchange for a human soul. This is the role he was was born to play, plummeting the depths of the psyche and all the angst that goes with it has always been what he does best.

Andreas Teuber's portrayal of Mephistopheles is the perfect counterbalance to the histrionic Faustus. Disturbingly quiet, attentive and thoughtful his demonic persona wavers subtly between melancholy and malignant. It's amazing how his expressionless face could convey so much unspoken meaning.

While the story is classic, the visuals at times hypnotic and Burton and Teuber superb, I found the presence of Elizabeth Taylor distracting and an unnecessary addition to the film. Aware of Richard and Liz's highly publicized love/hate relationship made her inclusion as his otherworldly lover a parody of their off-screen antics and detracted from the intended mood and mystery of the film. Fortunately this shortcoming may no longer apply to a younger generation unfamiliar with their on again off again romance.

All and all an enjoyable thought provoking film for the Faustus in all of us.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on July 4, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Back in 1967 when this film was first released, critics jumped all over it as just a Richard Burton-Elizabeth Taylor vanity project which it was but that's all they saw. Now that Dick and Liz have been supplanted by Tom and Katie and Brad and Angelina the film is ripe for rediscovery and there is much to discover here. The beauty of Christopher Marlowe's play lies in the poetry of the lines and the philosophical and theological points the playwright raises. This Oxford University production which Burton co-directed captures its stage origins but is cleverly opened up in a number of ways which turn it into a fascinating cinematic experience thanks to an imaginative use of lighting, beautiful cinematography, and a haunting musical score by Mario Nascimbene (ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.). And then there is Richard Burton.

His intense portrayal of the title character is a joy to behold and serves as a vivid reminder of just what a charismatic performer he was. His glorious voice speaks the Elizabethan text as if it were everyday conversation but with a power and conviction that must be heard to be believed and thanks to the optional DVD subtitles you can follow along as he speaks if you wish. The rest of the cast is made up of members of the Oxford Dramatic Society and they fufill the other roles satisfactorily with Andreas Teuber an absolute standout as a melancholy Mephistopheles. Last but not least there is Elizabeth Taylor. She is required to do nothing more than look beautiful in various guises (she has no dialogue) but she makes her presence felt throughout considering how beautiful she was back then. Chances are no one will redo Marlowe's play on film anytime soon and so there is even more reason to celebrate this version which clearly shows what the play has to offer as a great precursor to Shakespeare and how to make a major film on a minor budget.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 27, 2006
Format: DVD
This film is a great showcase of the amazing acting talent of the Immortal Richard Burton. What better material than the great Christopher Marlowe, the one who paved the way for Shakespeare for Richard Burton to flex his immense acting power and to speak what poetry in such a beautiful and mighty voice?

The first time I saw this film, I was mesmerized. I had already known of the greatness of Richard Burton with my viewing of The Spy who came in from the Cold but when I saw this film, I was entirely convinced of the fact that Richard Burton is up there with Laurence Olivier, and beyond? Possibly.
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