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Jan Svankmajer's long awaited follow up to his acclaimed "Alice" is an equally astounding version of the myth of Dr. Faustus. Merging live action with stop motion and claymation, Svankmajer has created an unsettling universe presided over by diabolic life size marionettes and haunted by skulking human messengers from hell.
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So begins Faust's journey into darkness, his encounter with Mephistopheles and his deal with the Devil. I guess this is the painful lesson mankind is doomed to learn over and over again, is it better to blindly embrace the Church and all its inherent ambiquity, or seek to understand the mysteries of the universe by whatever means at our disposal? One thing is certain, "Knowledge gained is far from bliss."
`Faust; released in `95 is a immensely original and highly inventive re-telling of the demonic tale that has long captured the European consciousness. Svankmajer's incorporation of puppetry and clay model animation works well overall, especially the puppet sequences in the theatre during the evocation sequence, but eventually becomes a little redundant and tiring towards the end. Definitely for a select audience, especially appealing for the magickcally inclined.
Svankmajer's sense of the surreal and absurd pervade, as does the sense of poverty and decay lingering from Czechoslovakia's communist misrule. Ballerinas rake hay, marionettes run off on their own, human material turns into stop-animation puppetry - reality takes on a rubbery quality, as you'd expect from Svankmajer's work.
I found the complex imagery making up for loose logic and unexplained doings, but I know that won't suit all viewers. If you're willing to assume that reason is somewhere nearby, even if out of sight most of the time, you might enjoy this remarkable achievement in film-making.
Probably the main thing I liked about FAUST was the fact that, although it is a fairly surreal film, it doesn't go out of it's way to be strange for strangeness's sake [like the Czech film DAISIES or the Georgian REPENTANCE, though those are okay movies]. Sure, you have bizarre goings-on like a stop-motion fetus in a jar growing old and turning into a skull, but many of the details you thought were unrelated to the story all wrap up in a very pleasing manner.
Of course, not all of your questions will be answered. I still don't understand the significance of the theater sets versus real scenery, or why Faust sometimes appears in his costume and sometimes in his regular trench coat. But I'm glad I don't completely get it--I like a movie to provoke thought rather than explain everything outright.
Also, man, what's with the other comments saying this is an art-house flick, or only pretentious snobs will enjoy it? Sure, FAUST is not for everybody, because not everybody likes unusual or even minorly challenging movies. Don't let the reverse-snobs scare you away
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1. Scholarship: I own have read the original stories that this movie was based on and I think the film adaptation...Read more
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