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69 customer reviews

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(Jun 05, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Fresh from the triumphant releases of Nosferatu and The Last Laugh, F.W. Murnau was given carte blanche to direct this epic fable of the supernatural. Freed from the burden of plausibility by the story's fantastic premise, Murnau summoned forth a tempest of cinematic brimstone so that every scene ripples with reckless ingenuity. Utilizing the full resources of the UFA Studios (including elaborate miniature models and experimental special effects), Faust captures the intensity of a medieval universe stepped in religious fanaticism and pagan alchemy. Black-hooded pallbearers lead a torch-lit procession through a plague-stricken village literally cloaked by the wings of Satan. Crowded landscapes materialize and vanish in wisps of smoke, daemonic creatures soar through the heavens and earthly beings are tormented by the vaporous spirits that permeate the dungeon-like homes and Caligari-esque rooftops of this shadow world. In the eye of this infernal maelstrom is the great Emil Jannings (Othello), who sets off the film's sound and fury with a diabolically engaging performance, making Faust (in the words of the New York Times) "A radiant jewel...a masterpiece!"

F.W. Murnau's last German production before leaving for Hollywood is a visually dazzling take on the Faust myth. Pushing the resources of the grand old German studio UFA to the limits, Murnau creates an epic vision of good versus evil as devil Emil Jannings tempts an idealistic aging scholar with youth, power, and romance. The handsome but wan Swedish actor Gosta Ekman plays the made-over Faust as a perfectly shallow scoundrel drunk with youth, and the lovely Camilla Horn (in a part written for Lillian Gish) is the young virgin courted, then cast aside, by Faust. The drama falters in the middle with a tedious courtship and bizarre comic interludes, but the delirious images of the opening (Jannings enveloping a mountain town in his dark cloak of evil) and the high melodrama of the climax (Horn desperately clutching her baby while crawling, abandoned and lost, through a snowstorm) triumphs over such shortcomings. The sheer scale of Murnau's epic and the magnificent play of light, shadow, and mist on his exquisitely designed sets makes this one of the most cinematically ambitious, visually breathtaking, and beautiful classics of the silent era. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Gösta Ekman, Emil Jannings, Camilla Horn, Frida Richard, William Dieterle
  • Directors: F.W. Murnau
  • Writers: Gerhart Hauptmann, Hans Kyser, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Producers: Erich Pommer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Silent, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2001
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005ASOS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,931 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Faust" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By KNO2skull on March 3, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As is to be expected of a great director, (F.W. Murnau, "Nosferatu", "The Man Who Laughs"), "Faust" delivers a brilliant adaption of this classic story concerning the perennial subject of good versus evil. Though, not apparently the first telling of this story, (IMDB lists 5 previous films with this title), it's perhaps, (to my knowledge) the oldest surviving version available. Its brilliance deserves preservation.
In a world struggling against pestilence, famine, and disease Mephisto decides he can attempt a hostile take-over through a real estate deal. The Archangel Michael agrees, that if Mephisto can win Faust over to his side, he gets the kit and kaboodle. Faust is a tired old doctor/alchemist who is disappointed at his inability to offer healing to those with the rampant-running plague. Soon, he calls on Mephisto and strikes up a deal with him. Mephisto gives him youth and pleasures of the world, until Faust falls for a simple girl.
This film is brilliantly done, with fantastic effects and brilliant storytelling. Some scenes are downright eerie, like Mephisto standing over the town with ravens wings. Emil Jennings plays a brilliant Mephisto, somewhere between the brilliant humor of mythical Loki and the dark evil vision of Zarathrustra's Angra Mainyu. Gösta Ekman is brilliant as Faust as well, from withered old man to young libertine, he shows talent rarely seen on the screen in recent time.
Though there aren't a lot of features on this disc, (including a nice photo gallery, a link to Kino's website, and scene selection), the print is beautiful for its age, and the music recently recorded and very appropriate. The price is a little high, but your not purchasing a sad copy for a few bucks, but a masterpiece both in original content and painstaking preservation. This film is worthy of being in any collection interest in great filmmaking.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Culbert Laney on August 2, 2001
Format: DVD
This film is ripe for reassessment as among the best silent films ever made and a true work of art. Unfortunately, most silent films are rarely seen outside of a small group of silent film enthusiasts. Murnau's earlier film "Nosferatu" is an exception, mainly because horror genre fans brought it to the attention of a wider audience. So "Nosferatu," a relatively immature low-budget work, receives all the attention, while "Faust," in every way beyond it, is not nearly so well-known simply because it doesn't fall neatly into a genre.
"Faust" features a stylish dream-like atmosphere punctuated with stunning special effects and lush visuals. Of course, this will not be to everyone's taste. Those looking for realistic straightforward storytelling may find it tedious or silly. I would say that "Faust" will appeal to fans of surreal "cult" films, ones that create their own unique allegorical world, such as "Brazil," "Dark City," "The City of Lost Children," "Being John Malkovich," "Metropolis," and the films of Jean Cocteau. In fact, the general atmosphere of Faust is most similar to Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" -- the young version of Faust reminds me of the Prince the Beast becomes. On a slightly lighter note, "Faust" should also appeal to fans of cult television shows like "The Avengers," "The Prisoner," and "Twin Peaks." I would even expect it to appeal to fans of classic Disney animation.
For a silent film of its day, the picture quality on "Faust" is very good. There is some slight unrepaired damage early on, but the picture quality becomes increasingly pristine as the film progresses.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 29, 2007
Format: DVD
Faust is just an incredible accomplishment in the art of silent cinema, one of the most ambitious and masterfully directed films of any era. If you've never seen a silent film and wonder if one could even keep your attention, Faust is the film to watch. Far too many classic early films were either lost or came to us in relatively poor condition, but this digitally mastered version of Faust is remarkably clear and free of white outs. I'm sure it looks better now that it did when it was released over eight decades ago. Don't go thinking we're only talking about characters standing around conversing, either; F. W. Murnau packed all kinds of incredible special effects into this magnificent piece of filmmaking.

You all know Faust - that fellow who made a deal with the devil. The story goes back as far as the fifteenth century, with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe penning the definitive version in the early nineteenth century. Murnau's Faust differs somewhat from the original two-part drama written by Goethe, supplanting rationalism with mysticism (no one did mysticism better than early German filmmakers). This approach, among other things, allows Murnau to open the film with nothing less than jaw-dropping visuals and effects. The story is heralded by the grim image of the apocalyptic horsemen thundering through the clouds, leading us to a confrontation between Mephisto (Satan) and an archangel over the control of the Earth. A wager is proposed, with dominion over the Earth set to depend upon the fate of one man's soul. That man is, of course, Faust, a good man targeted for evil temptation by the cursed one. Knowing he could not tempt Faust directly, Mephisto uses his own compassion against him.
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Topic From this Discussion
UFA films
I became first aquainted with Ufa while watching Metropolis for the first time since then I have taken an International Cinema class which delved into German Expressionism and the work of FW Murnau among others. I've now made it a point to watch all these great gems from the silent era.
Jul 8, 2006 by William Rushlow |  See all 2 posts
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