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Faust [1926] [VHS]

F.W. Murnau|Eric Barclay|Emil Jannings|Hertha von Walther    Parental Guidance   VHS Tape
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: F.W. Murnau|Eric Barclay|Emil Jannings|Hertha von Walther
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Vision Replays
  • VHS Release Date: 29 Nov 1993
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CNZN
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 300,410 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

From Amazon.co.uk

Shot in the UFA studios with a big movie star in the lead and all the special effects and production design resources any blockbuster of its time could wish for, FW Murnau's 1926 Faust represents a step up from his better-known Nosferatu. Oddly, Faust is a less familiar film than the vampire quickie and this release affords fans a chance to see what Murnau can do with an equally major fantasy story. Adapted neither from Marlowe's play Dr Faustus nor Goethe's verse drama, the script scrambles various elements of the legend and presents a Faust (Gosta Ekman) driven to summon the Devil by despair as a plague rages through the town, desperate to gain enough learning to help his neighbours. When this deal doesn't quite work out, because he is stoned by townsfolk who notice his sudden fear of the cross, Mephisto (Emil Jannings) offers Faust instead renewed youth and an opportunity to seduce a famously beautiful Italian noblewoman and then to return to his home village and get involved with the pure Gretchen (Camilla Horn). Like most versions of the story, it's episodic and some sections are stronger than others: the great stuff comes in the plague and initial deal sequences, though it picks up again for the tragic climax as Gretchen becomes the central figure and suffers horribly, freezing in the snows and burning at the stake. Jannings' devil, a gruesomely humorous slice of ham, is one of the great silent monster performances, reducing everyone else to a stick figure, and Murnau faces the challenge of topping his Nosferatu imagery by deploying a battalion of effects techniques to depict the many magical journeys, sudden appearances and transformations.

On the DVD: Often seen in ragged, incomplete prints projected at the wrong speed, this is a decently restored version, running a full 115 minutes with a complete orchestral score. The original materials show some of the damage to be expected in a film of its vintage, but the transfer is excellent, displaying the imaginative art direction and camerawork to superb advantage. Aside from a nicely eerie menu, the sole extra is a full-length commentary originating in Australia: written by historian Peter Spooner but read by narrator Russell Cawthorne (who mispronounces the odd name). This provides an interesting wealth of background detail, such as Murnau's attempt to cast Hollywood's Lillian Gish as Gretchen, and delivers a balanced assessment of the film itself. --Kim Newman

Product Description

F.W. Murnau's classic silent version of the German folk story. Faust (Gosta Ekmann) is an alchemist and scholar who becomes an unwitting pawn in a wager made between the Devil (Emil Jannings) and the Archangel Michael. The Devil sends a plague upon Faust's village, and Faust manages to find a cure, but only after entering into a terrrible bargain which could see his soul damned forever. The Devil then tempts Faust with eternal youth and the love of the beautiful Gretchen, but the scholar continues to struggle with his fate.

Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
For many years F.W. Murnau's FAUST was known to me only through a few stills and a poster. About 15 years ago I came across a public domain video copy which had poor picture quality and Vivaldi's FOUR SEASONS as its soundtrack. Even with these handicaps I could tell that it was something very special and I longed for the day when I might see a better print of the film. A few years ago Kino International released a high quality DVD of FAUST with a newly commissioned score and I was ecstatic as I could now see the film close to the way it must have looked in 1926. Now Eureka has come out with this double DVD set which allows us for the first time to see the film the way Murnau intended. The Kino edition was based on the export version which differs in a number of ways from the original domestic version made available here. The biggest difference is in the way a number of scenes are treated. They are more expanded in the original and have a sharper picture quality than the export version. The ending of Faust and Gretchen ascending to Heaven is missing which seems rather strange as that is key to the film's theme of redemption through forgiveness. Thanks to this set you can view both versions and see the differences for yourself.

The performances especially by Emil Jannings as Mephistopheles and Camilla Horn as Gretchen are remarkable and the various special effects used are outstanding for the time and still have the power to astonish. As I said in an earlier review most silent film buffs think PANDORA'S BOX with Louise Brooks to be the apex of German silent cinema and maybe it is but I cast my vote for FAUST. Murnau was a true cinematic poet, a German Cocteau if you will, and all of his considerable skill as a cinematic storyteller went into the making of this film.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended Blu-ray presentation. 11 Aug 2014
By Lee R
WARNING: Light spoilers ahead.

I'm almost ashamed to admit I was never really wowed by the film the only time I'd seen it previously on the first Eureka DVD. This year though I've been plowing my way through all of Murnau's surviving works and finding much of interest, so this Blu-ray of Faust was timed perfectly for me. This time I found it one of the most visually stunning films I've seen, and the Blu-ray is fabulous for that. The first 40 minutes is an endless visual assault, after which the film changes tactic somewhat and throws in melodrama and comedy. I found this dragged a little but Jannings keeps it afloat with a deliciously wicked performance. It changes again in the final third, and I was witness to raw emotion and the wickedness so-called good men can inflict upon the suffering. In fact, a devilish Mephisto seems to possess far more humanity than many of the God-fearing villagers. Very much a film of 3 distinct acts (along with it's prologue and epilogue).

I can now understand why this is hailed as a masterpiece, and it's a genuinely superb Blu-ray presentation. I had planned to leave the extras until another time, but ended up ploughing through the visual pieces (except the export version, the comparison featurette tells me all I need to know) all in one sitting. My highest recommendation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the ultimate fantasy film 2 Jun 2013
By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER
Murnau's Faust stands alongside his other works from the twenties and takes us on the greatest flights of fantasy, perhaps, as befits the subject. His visual imagination was such that the subject seems ideally suited to him, and there is something utterly captivating about the way he takes us through these episodes. The actors are all amazing - the mother and Aunt Martha so characterful that you do not feel the fact you can't hear them detracts at all from the communication. The faces have something quite Germanic in an interesting way - the mother has a kind of harmony that makes her the mother of all the Schone Mullerins, of all the beautiful maidens addressed in German poetry, while Gretchen herself is just such a maiden, with a really stunning beauty and purity. Every scene could be frozen and regarded like a painting from the early Renaissance - for instance the windows often have beautiful, intricate glass. A palace where a wedding feast is taking place looks just like one in the National Gallery by Altdorfer ... coming at the end of a magnificent flight through the night sky made by Faust on Mephisto's coattails. Mephisto himself is the most incredible creation by Emil Jannings, both comical and menacing. His black garb is quite something in itself, while his rubbery face and gestures hold you captivated, as befits a devil. The scene where he first strikes a deal with Faust has an extraordinary expression. The music (orchestral version) is also fantastic in a sub-Wagnerian mode, yet a feeling of intimacy is very much to the fore, right to the final ascent to heaven ... CGI simply cannot equal this in its power to enthral. This Eureka edition is exemplary in every way, complete with a thick booklet, alternative harp score and explanatory film by Tony Rayns, as well as a full-length commentary by two other critics and another video comparison - it could hardly be more complete.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Some years ago a good friend introduced me to Nosferatu, which I thoroughly enjoyed and consider to be a cinematic masterpiece. I determined to see more work from the same director, but have never got around to it now. I am glad I waited, as the Masters of Cinema series from Eureka is now allowing me to see these films in superb quality.

Faust is a dark tale of man's desires and the depths he can be driven to, tempered, ultimately with his capacity for self sacrifice and redemption.

The film opens with visually arresting images as the Devil Mephisto and an Angel lay a wager - if Mephisto can capture the soul of Faust, and turn the good Doctor to evil then he can lay claim to all the earth for his dominion. Mephisto starts a savage plague which Faust's science and faith cannot cure. In desperation he summons the Devil and seals a pact in his own blood, initially for the power to help the victims for a day. Cunningly Mephisto draws Faust ever deeper into his clutches, until, for the love of good woman he finds redemption.

The narrative is well known, but it is told in a fantastic and visually arresting fashion by Murneau, a master of his art. There are several big set pieces, especially at the beginning of the film, with some amazing special effects. Mephisto rising from a pit of fire, looking over the town spreading plague, the whole summoning sequence at the crossroads. These scenes are quite iconic, and leave one breathless with excitement and wonder.

Every scene is shot with meticulous attention to detail. The lighting for each is finely judged, and brings out the maximum impact and depth. The famous scene where the original Faustian pact is signed is a particular example; it is packed with immense emotion.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Cinema history.
This is one of my new favourite films. I may be a sucker for look and feel over purpose on this occassion, but it's so well done, and such an influential film that I'm happy to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by AP
Published 6 months ago by HAN XIAO
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product. this edition is awsome and finally e can see Murnau's...
Great product. this edition is awsome and finally e can see Murnau's original version of this movie. A piece of cinema's history has re-birth.
Published 12 months ago by Drone89
5.0 out of 5 stars Top service, fine film
Arrived on time and at a fair price... Murnau no auteur, but a fine film maker, and parts of Faust are excellent; none of it bad.
Published 15 months ago by Rufus Yells
5.0 out of 5 stars classic film.
Bought this as a gift for my father,as he loves the old Nosferato silent film.He also has a passion for photography and music so am sure he'll love it.
Published 17 months ago by DEBS
4.0 out of 5 stars Unmistakably Murnau
"Faust" is one of the great films from the silent era and F.W. Murnau's last "German" film, before he moved to the USA. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Basileus
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually, the music is important folks!
Yes, this is a great film, and yes this release of the domestic version is enormously welcome, but who was it that adapted the Timothy Brock music score to fit the domestic... Read more
Published on 29 Mar 2011 by Prof Derek B. Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Faust by Murnau. Restored by Luciano Berriatua.
This edition is excellent, although the excellent music by Tim Brock (which was composed for the Export version in 1996, more longer in lenght) does not sync well in the domestic... Read more
Published on 19 Jan 2011 by Victor Diaz Murillo
5.0 out of 5 stars Master Class on lighting techniques
Well, the Faust legend never looked so good. Above all, this film is a master class about lighting techniques. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2010 by paco
5.0 out of 5 stars a universal masterpiece
Most important for a lover of myths such as the universal Faust; also to be considered for lovers and students of the art of direction in modern cinema, Murnau being one of the... Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2010 by PROF YVETTE MOREIRA
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