Murnau s last German film features astonishing photography, magnificent art direction, and special effects which retain the power to amaze. Freed from the constraints of psychological narrative, Murnau s mastery of cinematic technique places Faust, eine deutsche Volkssage [Faust: A German Folktale]
at the pinnacle of the silent era, its barrage of visceral and apocryphal imagery contrasting with the simplicity and directness of its spiritual theme.
In collaboration with the screenwriter Hans Kyser, Murnau fused Faust's
script from German folk legend and the works of Goethe, Gounod, and Marlowe (particularly using the latter s tone). Faust's
tale is a classic one of a man who sells his soul to the devil. In an attempt to gain control of the Earth, Mephisto (Emil Jannings) wagers an angel (Werner Fuetterer) that he can corrupt the soul of the elderly professor Faust (Gosta Ekman). As the Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride demonically through the sky, Mephisto towers over Faust s hometown unleashing a plague that spreads amongst its inhabitants. Faust, unable to find a cure for the citizens who are dropping dead around him, renounces both God and science invoking the aid of Satan through a mysterious book that he chances across.
Murnau, a perfectionist, shot multiple takes of each scene with only prime takes making the final German domestic cut of Faust
. Only the prints made for export outside Germany were seen until recent times; indeed this version was at one time thought to be the only version (it used discarded takes, errors, less impressive special effects, and human stand-ins for real animals). Using the nitrate duplicate negatives printed by UFA in 1926 (and an array of international sources) Murnau s favoured domestic German version of Faust
has now been meticulously reconstructed by Luciano Berriatua for Filmoteca Espanola from which this newly restored transfer is sourced. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to be able to present the original German domestic cut of Faust
for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK. SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Gorgeous 1080p transfer of the domestic German print, with original German intertitles and optional English subtitles
- A choice of three scores; an orchestral score by Timothy Brock, a specially commissioned harp score by Stan Ambrose, a new piano score by Javier Pérez de Azpeitia (Blu-ray only)
- Full-length audio commentary by critics David Ehrenstein and Bill Krohn
- The Language of Shadows, a 53 minute documentary on Faust
- The complete export version of the film plus a video comparison between the domestic and export versions of the film
- A 20-minute video piece with critic Tony Rayns discussing the film
- 44-PAGE BOOKLET containing an essay on Faust by writer Peter Spooner, a new translation of excerpts of Éric Rohmer s brilliant treatise on the film, and rare archival imagery
In der Hoffnung, seine Mitbürger vor der Pest retten zu können, verschreibt sich der Gelehrte Faust dem Mephisto. Dieser schenkt ihm, um ihn fest an sich zu binden, die ewige Jugend. Nach der Verführung Gretchens durch Faust nimmt sich deren Mutter wegen der Schande das Leben, woraufhin Faust und Mephisto fliehen müssen. Von allen verlassen bringt Gretchen ein Kind zur Welt und irrt mit ihm durch den Schnee, bis es erfriert. Als Gretchen deshalb wegen Kindermordes verbrannt werden soll, verwünscht Faust seine ewige Jugend und steigt durch die Flammen zu ihr auf den Scheiterhaufen.