Tuesday, February 9, 2010

FAUST and Cinema

F. W. Murnau (1888-1931) is considered one of the greatest film directors who ever lived. The last film he made in his native Germany was FAUST (1926). Murnau's film does not follow Goethe scene for scene. It also draws on older versions of the story including Marlowe and the early-modern German chapbooks about Doktor Faustus.

A youthful Faust seduces the Duchess of Parma

Mephistopheles pust Gretchen's mother into an enchanted slumber.

An aged Faust invokes the servant of Satan, Mephistopheles, at the crossroads.
There's that magic circle again. This scene is one of the creepiest ever put on film.

The aged Faust espouses philosophy to his eager students. Dig that luminescent globe!

The archangel Michael and Mephistopheles make a bet.

Mephistopheles descends on the town, spreading plague from his cloak-like wings.

German poster for the film, done in the style of a 16th C. woodcut

A more traditional poster

Quite frankly Murnau's FAUST is one of the most glorious things I've ever seen on film- utterly breathtaking and full of references to art history. At moments one feels one has entered into a living painting by Bosch, Bruegel or Rembrandt- or perhaps a lavishly illustrated children's book- except without color. Someone has put the entire film in several parts on Youtube. It is the beautiful restored print by Kino and is in high definition. I post parts 1-3 here- you can see the rest on Youtube. You can also rent it easily through Netflix or a good local outlet. FAUST is truly a MUST see for all you film buffs. Enjoy!


  1. Hey Jason, thanks for posting this! I was about to email you asking you for the link! So again, thanks.
    - margarita