Faust

"Good"

Faust Review


Sokurov's fractured version of the Goethe play is something of an oddball masterpiece. It's meandering and fairly impenetrable in its madcap excesses, but is packed with eye-popping imagery and challenging ideas about human nature.

In a medieval German town, Dr Faust (Zeiler) is struggling with the meaning of life and the idea of God. Frustrated by the limits of his knowledge, he embarks on a quest that takes him to a chattery old moneylender (Adasinskiy), who gets his autograph and then follows him everywhere, pushing him into a variety of situations. Along the way, Faust falls for the young Margarete (Dychauk), although his chances with her are somewhat lessened when he kills her brother (Bruckner). But the moneylender can help. For a price.

The elaborate animated opening shot descends from the heavens to the village where the doctor is performing a seriously grisly autopsy, looking for a dead man's soul. Blackly comical interaction sits at odds with the doctor's darkly existential thoughts and the moneylender's manipulative bustle. So as the story progresses, moments of Pythonesque absurdity blend with provocative philosophical insight along the road to hell. Sure, money can buy almost anything, but sometimes people want to be bad.

The film is designed like an epic fairy tale, with sets that are packed with fascinating details and dreamlike sequences that angle and squeeze the images as if reality is shifting. Claustrophobic and crowded, scenes bristle with both silly slapstick and sinister foreboding. People literally climb the walls and each other. And the period is intriguingly timeless, with costumes that seem to span the past 500 years. At the centre, Zeiler has a terrific world-weary intelligence mixed with curiosity, while Adasinskiy's freakish physicality keeps everything off-balance.

Sokurov takes a rambling, askance approach to the traditional Faust narrative, and it's not particularly easy to follow. The actors never stop talking in circles, and keeping track of who's whom is a challenge. But the film is a visual feast, shot (by Bruno Delbonnel) and designed (by Elena Zhukova) with artistry and wit, allowing the actors to create vivid characters. We may not quite be able to follow everything they do or say, but their energy and emotions are unforgettable.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 85 mins

In Theaters: Monday 6th December 1926

Distributed by: MGM

Production compaines: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Athanor, Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC), Heart of Europe Prague K Productions, Kominsk, Lumen Films, Pandora Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Andrey Sigle

Starring: Petr Čepek as Faust, as All Voices (voice)

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