Faust (1926), directed by F.W. Murnau, epitomises the German Cinema's horror movie output from UFA.
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Faust: Eine Deutsche Volkssage


Faust (1926)(1926/UFA.) 107mins. BW. Silent. Germany.
Credits: Dir: F.W. Murnau & Karl Freund; Prod: Erich Pommer; Sc: Hans Kyser, F.W. Murnau & Thea von Harbou; Ph: Carl Hoffman; Sets & Costumes: Robert Herlth, Walter Rohrig & Arno Richter; Mus: Erno Rapee, Werner Richard Heymann & Paul A. Hensel. Based on the story by Goethe.
Cast: Gosta Ekman, Emil Jannings, Camilla Horn, Yvette Guilbert, Frieda Richard, William Dieterle, Eric Barclay, Hanna Ralph, Werner Futterer, Hans Brausewetter, Lothar Mothel, Hans Rameau, Hertha von Walther, Emmy Wyda.

If one film epitomises the chiaroscuro from the golden-age of the German cinema, it is surely Murnau's FAUST available in this country on video with a clean, crisp print and a full-bodied music score by Andrew Youdell. (article written in 1994)
More artistically resplendent than Murnau's most notorious contribution Nosferatu, FAUST represents Murnau's maturity in all aspects of his talent.

The Devil holds dominion over all in Faust (1926)The film opens with the Devil, (Emil Jannings), boasting to the Archangel St. Michael, (Werner Futterer, a part originally offered to Nils Asther), that he can corrupt anyone on Earth and chooses an elderly alchemist named Faust, (Gosta Ekman), bargaining that if he can be influenced to commit only evil then Satan shall be given dominion over the Earth.
While Faust persists frantically to find a cure for a plague that has descended on the village caused by none other than the Devil himself, Faust invokes the Devil and signs a pact with tall hatted Mephistopheles that will help him eradicate the disease. However, the townspeople refuse the Devil's medicine and Faust attempts suicide, but Mephisto tempts him with an offer of eternal youth, and the love of a young girl named Gretchen, (Camilla Horn), in exchange for his soul . Faust flees from the town when he kills Gretchen's brother Valentine in a duel, leaving her to be accused of the murder and sentenced to burn at the stake. When Faust hears Gretchen's call for help he renounces his youth and his life for her, demanding that the Devil takes him through the air to the place of Gretchen's execution. Both burn at the stake and ascend into Heaven, proving that love is stronger than evil.

Gosta Eckman, Emil Jannings and Wilhelm Dieterle in Faust (1926)Abound with memorable images and visual beauty, the film is a triumph for those in front of, and behind the camera. Carl Hoffman, in close collaboration with set designers Robert Herlth and Walter Rohrig, helps bring out the best of Murnau's most grandiose production, his last before relocating to America.
One sequence that stands out depicts the descent of the plague over the little village as Mesiphtopheles throws the shadow of his cape across the community. For this shot Emil Jannings had to be suspended on wires for three hours, his black cape billowing in the wind created by three electric fans as black soot was blown onto the miniature village.
Some critics have expressed that the story becomes too cluttered with comic subplots, but amidst the atmosphere and imagery that can only be considered pure cinema, this becomes an irrelevant observation.

Behind the scenes of Faust (1926)The role of Gretchen was initially offered to Lillian Gish, but she declined when her insistence to use Charles Rosher as chief cameraman was denied.

The full reconstruction of the film by Luciano Berriata of the Filmoteca Espanola was made using footage from several available prints.

Actor Wilhelm Dieterle later became William Dieterle who directed The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) and the Faustian tale transferred to New England in All That Money Can Buy (1940).

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