Friday, May 15, 2009

Faust - Eine deutsche Volkssage (1926)



Faust is a classic silent film produced by UFA, directed by F.W. Murnau, starring Gösta Ekman as Faust, Emil Jannings as Mephisto, Camilla Horn as Gretchen/Marguerite, Frida Richard as her mother, Wilhelm Dieterle as her brother and Yvette Guilbert as Marthe Schwerdtlein, her aunt. Murnau's film draws on older traditions of the legendary tale of Faust as well as on Goethe's classic version.

This carefully composed and innovative feature contains many memorable images and special effects, with careful attention paid to contrasts of light and dark. Particularly striking is the sequence in which the giant, horned and black winged figure of Mephisto (Jannings) hovers over a town sowing the seeds of plague. The acting by Ekman (who miraculously transforms, in the course of the film, from a bearded old man to a handsome youth) and the sinister, scowling, demonic Jannings is first rate and the virtually unknown actress Camilla Horn gives a memorable performance as the tragic figure of Gretchen.

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