FAUST (1926) | Week 2 FILM/VIDEO

F. W. Murnau's Faust
Image by Steve Snodgrass via Flickr

German alchemist Faust is the object of a wager between God and Satan. Satan sends Mephisto to Earth to offer Faust an end to the plague that is making it’s way through the local population, and eternal youth, in return for the small price of his soul. German with English subtitles.

Faust was the mammoth German production which won F. W. Murnau his contract with Hollywood’s Fox Studios. Emil Jannings glowers his way through the role of Mephistopholes, who offers the aging Faust (Gosta Eckman) an opportunity to relive his youth, the price being Faust’s soul. Though highly stylized, the film is unsettlingly realistic at times, especially during the execution of the unfortunate Gretchen. Even in old age, actress Camilla Horn could recall how close she came to genuine immolation when Murnau burned her at the stake. An American version of Faust had been planned earlier as a Mary Pickford vehicle, but Pickford’s mother wanted no part of a film in which her darling daughter strangled her own baby. The scenario for Faust touches lightly upon the previous retellings by Goethe and Marlowe, but is more heavily reliant on the paintings of Pietr Breughel.

Directed by F.W. Murnau
Produced by Erich Pommer
Written by Hans Kyser
Starring Gösta Ekman
Emil Jannings
Camilla Horn
Wilhelm Dieterle
Frida Richard
Yvette Guilbert
Music by William Axt (US, uncredited)
Cinematography Carl Hoffman
Distributed by UFA
Release date(s) 14 September 1926(Austria)
December 5, 1926 (US)
Running time 106 minutes
Country Germany
Language Silent film
German intertitles

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