Faust, or what we like to call “How the hell did they do that shot?!” is a spectacular 1926 film. Directed by legendary F.W. Murnau and stars Gosta Ekman as Faust. Emil Jannings as the villainous Mephisto. Camilla Horn as the beautiful Gretchen. Frida Richard as Gretchen’s mother. Wilhelm Dieterle as Gretchen’s brother, and Yvette Guilbert as Marthe Schwedtlein.
F.W. Murnau‘s film obviously is inspired by the Goethe classic legend of a man who sells his soul while God and Satan battle for the entire planet for the ultimate clash of who shall inherit dominion over the Earth.
Mephisto brings a vicious plague upon a poor village where an aging alchemist lives. Faust prays for that the death and starvation of his family and friends would end. Of course, it’s a prayer never answered. So Faust, enraged, burns his vast collection of Alchemy books and tosses his Holy Bible onto the flames.
Faust comes across a book that had opened up, albeit conveniently, to a page where it details on how he could attain power and riches by calling upon the Devil. Faust goes to a crossroads to perform the ritual as detailed in the book and conjures up the mighty Mephisto.
Mephisto gives him a 24 hour trial period on the deal, however knowing Faust once he tasted the power would never give it up. Faust uses his new powers to help the people of his village but as we all know what happens with good deeds. Faust’s own family and dear friends turn on him and and begin to stone him.
The film does not end there. Faust is all about the battle of Good and Evil for all of us and we are simply unable to witness how the Cosmos is in constant turmoil with itself. We also learn the value of the human soul and the consequences of our actions.
This would be Murnau’s last German film and the end of a fantastic era in German silent films. Faust is a stunning portrayle of the old legend and will literally have you in awe and bwilderment as you gaze upon it’s special effects and artistry. Modern films of today would have a hard time reconstructing what Murnau was able to accomplish with his primitive resources of the day. This is truly one of the most powerful films you will ever see.