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Showing 1-10 of 48 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 84 reviews
on July 1, 2001
Absolutely! Words are totally superfluous - this is a prime example of CINEMATIC ART.
It is CAMILLA HORN who shines in this production. She rose out of relative obscurity to star this version of "Faust". Her acting is fresh, timeless, and on a par with Louise Brooks work. Fotunately, Lillian Gish [icon though she is] due to various "artistic requests" did not star, leaving us with this sensitive, untainted performance. Ms. Horn is contemporary, desirable, sensual and moving. [She's a young Bridget Fonda!]
Also worthy of mention is the virile Wilhelm Dieterle as Ms. Horn's doomed brother.
Costumes, lighting and set design, are superbly executed. One wonders what F.W. Murnau could achieve today with all of our "technological superiority". The special effects are memorable, especially the duel between good and evil, Jannings as Mephisto towering over the little hamlet, and the invocation sequence at the cross roads: The appearance of Mephisto as the sinister peasant (?) with glowing eyes! How about the fire-rings surrounding Faust? [Coppola's "Dracula?"]
TIMOTHY BROCK'S original score is an excellent echancement to this work - in digital stereo [great in "surround mode"].
This is a must for the serious film student / collector.
Trivia: Doesn't Ed Harris look like F.W.? See the production stills......
[A fresh alternative to "Star Wars"]
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on October 6, 2013
I just watched the F. W. Murnau silent film version of Faust from 1926 and it was surprisingly good. It's from the director of Nosferatu and heavily based on the Goethe version of the Faust legend, not the Christopher Marlowe verison.

Marlowe's Faust ends in a bleak and very hopeless kind of way whereas Goethe has Faust redeemed at the end with the idea that caring about others and love is the most powerful and most transcendent force in the universe and that, as it is the ultimate goodness, you cannot be damned if you can love.

This silent film is heavily based on the more hopeful version of the story by Goethe, containing elements of both part 1 and part 2 of Goethe's Faust. I strongly recommend this for anyone who is a fan of Goethe's version of Faust. I sort of wish it would get a remake, still set in the fifeenth / sixteenth century and with the same ending (even if people do find the idea of love redeeming you to be saccharine). I think we need stories like this. And it is a shame the Goethe version of Faust isn't more well known in the English speaking world.

This two disc DVD contains my now favorite silent film. This is the only film version of Faust to cover both Part 1 and 2 of Goethe's Faust. It strays a bit but the bulk of the story, particularly most of the Faust / Gretchen storyline is in tact. Most people only adapt the Christopher Marlowe version of the Faust legend if they are even familiar with it at all, which is sad because Goethe's version is the only one where Faust gets redeemed at the end. Faust is the German legend loosely based on a real life alchemist and self-proclaimed sorcerer. From this legend we get the demon name Mephistopheles AKA Mephisto, who in the legend, was not Satan himself but actually a high ranking demon.

This adaptation is from the director of Nosferatu. Apparently he loved to refilm many scenes several times in several different ways so at one point there were thirty different versions of this film floating around, some with differing dialogue, some with scenes shot slightly different, some with scenes missing, some with scenes added. Film historians have found five. This DVD contains two of them. An American release, and the original German version restored as much as possible to it's original content. The German version is on disc 1 with an option for English subtitles. The American cut is on disc 2. One scene that was changed in some versions is there's a scene with a bear. Some versions it's a man in a bear costume. Some with a live bear and in one cut the bear obviously actually hurt one of the actors but they leave it in.

I have seen people complain that Mephisto is too comical and not dark enough but clearly these people are not that familiar with Goethe's version of Faust. Mephisto was flamboyant, comical, but yes, evil. And that's what you get here. I have also seen the complaint that they "Tacked on" Faust going to Heaven and even the love story because "That's not in Marlowe's version." This is NOT Marlowe's Faust. Most of this version is based on the Goethe version of the story.

One thing that they changed for this film is one thing that they probably should have left alone. in Goethe's Faust the deal was for the ultimate experience, the moment Faust would wish to never end. In this film that's not the bargain. But considering how easily bored and distracted Faust gets at times I think it would have made certain parts better if that had been the deal.

In general though this is the only film version to truly tackle both parts of Goethe's Faust and they did it very well.
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on July 14, 2015
***SPOILER ALERT***
The great F.W. Murnau directed only one real blockbuster in Germany, just before coming to America to make his masterpiece, Sunrise; extravagant in every sense, Faust (1926) is laden with references to Dutch, German, and Italian painting and was rivaled only by Fritz Lang's Metropolis in driving the UFA studio toward bankruptcy. Like Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, this extraordinary piece of artistry and craftsmanship integrates its dazzling special effects so seamlessly that they're indistinguishable from the film's narrative, poetry, and, above all, metaphysics. It's based mainly on the first part of Goethe's play, and though some of the performances (notably Emil Jannings's Mephisto) can be ham-fisted, particularly when the film tries its hand at low comedy, Camilla Horn makes a striking Marguerite, and Gösta Ekman is certainly a boldly sculptured presence as Faust.
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on March 3, 2003
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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on August 6, 2008
Familiarity with neither Marlowe's "Tragedy of Doctor Faustus" nor Goethe's "Faust" will prepare you for this Murnau masterpiece. It is a film that truly surprises, clearly echoing its protagonist's own journey from greatness to aimless indecision, unintended disaster, and finally a strong resolution. This insanely brilliant yet highly uneven work is a clear and beautiful transition from the fantastic expressionistic horror of Murnau's "Nosferatu" to the dark and stunningly beautiful tragic romance of "Sunrise." It is almost schizophrenic in its scope, but it pays off masterfully in the end.

"Faust" begins as a stylized satanic horror film, rife with the most absolutely jaw-dropping special effects that would not be outdone for decades to come. At the heart of this first act is (unsurprisingly) Faust, a spiritual, saintly man who is forced to play Job to a quarreling Angel and Devil. Unfortunately, Faust has his breaking point and descends, brilliantly, into the world of the damned. For the first hour of the film, we are subjected to cinematic wonder after cinematic wonder as Murnau and crew constantly manage to top each and every visual that they throw at you. Even when Faust signs away his soul and seems to lose all of his dramatic potential, the visuals keep you glued to your seat.

About an hour into the film, though, the film takes an abrupt turn. Just as Faust becomes bored and indecisive with his newfound powers, Murnau seems to become bored and indecisive with the direction of his powerful film. It descends into a black comedy which, although humorous at points, feels highly tedious and out of place. Fortunately, as this chapter wraps up after approximately 30 minutes, it's purpose becomes clear.

The film then transitions into a gritty tragedy about Gretchen, Faust's love interest introduced in the previous act. Like the previous one, this dark and depressing act seems to come out of nowhere, not even featuring Faust and seemingly having little to do with the story begun in the first act.

However, just as Gretchen's fortunes take an even greater turn for the worse, the film makes a stunning transition, leaping to life with brilliant action, drama, effects, camera work, and acting. For the rest of my life, I doubt that I will ever forget Gretchen's primal cry for Faust, visually transcending distance and the boundaries of Hell itself. The film ends soon after, but not before delivering gorgeous, dramatically saturated moment after moment. The end leaves you with a feeling of elated sorrow -- something I never would have expected from what began as an expressionist horror film.

In the end, Faust is a wonderfully cruel love tragedy, soaring with emotion even higher than it ever soared with the best cinematic imagery of its day. "Faust" is a must see for anyone that shares an equal love for satanic horror and divine tragedy. You'll get both in equal measure, here.

Regarding the transfer itself, Kino does an adequate job, but there's certainly room for improvement. The transfer has its share of jumps, scratches, imperfections, and minor over-all graininess, all while suffering from seemingly poor contrast. It's absolutely watchable, but I'd love to see the Murnau Foundation take this film to the next level, making it shine in the way that it deserves to. I do have to say that the score on Kino's release is incredible, though, absolutely complimenting and nurturing every aspect of Murnau's masterpiece with a Wagner-inspired energy. I'd hate to watch this film without it.

**Note: This review pertains to the 2001 Kino release. Kino has since released a newly remastered edition with a different score.
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on February 28, 2007
I bought this without having previously viewed it, because so much has been written about the visuals and atmosphere. I'm no film expert, but I can tell that this film is something very special. Its like David Lynch only good. Murnau basically keeps a theme while being an expressionist; something modern "art" film makers can't seem to do. Murnau has done the impossible: told a full length story with a beginning and end using only images and feelings. You feel every one in your bones and if you're like me, you'll appreciate every frame of the movie. There seems to be not one shot in the whole movie that doesn't have meaning on its own.

All this being said, what is the film about? I was not previously familiar with Faust except for knowing he was the "guy who made a deal with the Devil" thing. Devil makes deal with archangel (stunning depictions by the way), Devil in part of deal tries to corrupt long-bearded Faust. Faust is a pompous academic whose piety and devotion to God you always doubt from the beginning (probably from his alchemist background). The Devil easily entices Faust to make a 24 hour pact in which time he successfully introduces Faust to all the things he normally reserves for those who either have good looks, youth, riches or all three and Faust; about to partake of a beautiful woman for (what we assume) his first time, is forced to either lose his newly found youth or make the pact eternal in the face of end of the 24 hour pact immediately impending. The rest is a spoiler so I won't ruin it except to say that there is much joy and sorrow the rest of the way.

The acting by Faust and the Devil is first rate. The rest of the acting is good. Gretchen is fun to watch, especially when she shuffles around her house. The movie itself lives on its own. The ending seems abrupt upon first watching, but upon subsequent watchings it seems to make far more sense.

Favorite moment: I have two, when Mephisto makes a scary face at Gretchen when she is going to church, and when the archangel raises his flaming sword in judgement against the Devil.

Greatest wonderful surprise: The orchestral score that plays with the movie is fantastic. Better than any I've ever heard with a silent.

Extras: Not many. Just some production photos and a hard copy of an essay written about the movie by some guy.

Movie rating: 9 out of 10. Some may say the middle part drags a little, but I think that was intentional in order to bring out some thematic ideas.
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on November 1, 2000
This is an amazing silent film from the German Expressionist movement. Emil Jannings is great, but the visual design steals the show! Director Murnau produces a world of darkness and mystery. Watch Faust's fantasy ride with the devil and you realize this may have been the inspiration for some of Disney's classics -- especially the Night on Bald Mtn. segment of Fantasia. I'm excited to recommend this forgotten gem from a great director who was lost too early. The DVD is from superb source materials (as is the case with most of David Shepard's work), but the sound track is weak. Most of it is tolerable, but there are moments when it really creaks. I hate to say it, but the orchestra doesn't sound like it tuned up before recording. Get it anyway!
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on December 3, 2015
This is an interesting film, with some amazing special effects. Way ahead of its time. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Amazon Stream was HD which surprised me. The print is in terrific shape.
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on October 29, 2016
A marvelous release. The Blu-Ray adds clarity to the film that makes it even more enjoyable. The commentaries are very interesting and the second disc is an alternate cut. Too bad that's not in Blu-Ray as well. Highly recommended for lovers of early cinema especially the Expressionist German cinema.
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on January 4, 2016
Love this movie, but note that this blu ray contains the same restoration as the previous Kino Deluxe Collector's Edition 2-DVD set. Kino has just recently gotten around to releasing the title on blu. Also note that the second disc is a DVD of the U.S. release version of the film from David Shepard.

Given that, don't expect more from this title than you might think. The resolution is obviously better but even the restored print is full of damage. Love this movie and wish there were better elements available, but it is what it is.

DON'T over pay for this title. I pulled the trigger at $32 on December 29th 2015 here on Amazon and now (1 week later) they're selling it for $16. It's only worth the $16.
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