Monday, 20 September 2010

Faust - complete download

Not Gounod's Faust at ENO, but  F W Murnau's Faust from 1926. This is based on the Goethe version of the story, with Gretchen burned at the stake. The perspective's completely different from the medieval version. Goethe's heretical!

His God jests with the Devil who makes a bet that he can corrupt even the holiest of men, scholarly old Faust. Germany's in the grip of terrible plague, Savonarolas and false prophets abound. Faust realizes books aren't going to help, so he does a deal with the devil, deliciously played by Emil Jannings, the schoolmaster in The Blue Angel., which you can see in full download on this site by clicking on the link.

Faust gets turned into a handsome young man, re-enacting the youth he probably didn't have curled up with books.  He and Gretchen fall in love and there's a baby. So she gets thrown out and eventually burned at the stake. Faust returns, but now he's old and wretched again. Still, Gretchen recognizes him, and he's redeemed. Liebe, says the film, written in flames.  Love wins, not so much God, unless it was God who willed love to happen.

This film is such an influential classic. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalpse, the crowd scenes, and the landscape over which the Devil flies, carrying Faust in his arms.  Evil birds of doom, a bit like cranes but scarier. Precursors of the airborne hordes in Flash Gordon or Apocalypse Now? A very "Germanic" setting. This proved to be Murnau's last Weimar movie. By 1927 he was settled successfully in Hollywood. What a cultural jump from Faust to Sunrise, Murnau's adaptation of a Gerrman story to open-air California.

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