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Faust (Murnau) (Masters of Cinema) DVD

F.W. Murnau, 1926

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Film Details

Directed by F.W. Murnau

Produced in 1926

Main Language - Silent

Countries & Regions - European Film, German Film

Film Description

FW Murnau's 1926 version of the Faust legend - his last German film - features astonishing photography, magnificent art direction and special effects which retain the power to amaze. Freed from the constraints of psychological narrative, Murnau’s mastery of cinematic technique places Faust at the pinnacle of the silent era, its barrage of visceral and apocryphal imagery contrasting with the simplicity and directness of its spiritual theme.

In collaboration with the screenwriter Hans Kyser, Murnau fused Faust’s script from German folk legend and the works of Goethe, Gounod, and Marlowe to tell the classic tale of a man who sells his soul to the devil. In an attempt to gain control of the Earth, Mephisto (Emil Jannings) wagers an angel that he can corrupt the soul of the elderly professor Faust (Gosta Ekman). As the Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride demonically through the sky, Mephisto towers over Faust’s hometown unleashing a plague that spreads amongst its inhabitants. Faust, unable to find a cure for the citizens who are dropping dead around him, renounces both God and science invoking the aid of Satan through a mysterious book that he chances across.

Murnau, a perfectionist, shot multiple takes of each scene with only prime takes making the final German domestic cut of Faust. Only the prints made for export outside Germany were seen until recent times; indeed this version was at one time thought to be the only version (it used discarded takes, errors, less impressive special effects, and human stand-ins for real animals). Using the nitrate duplicate negatives printed by UFA in 1926 (and an array of international sources) Murnau’s favoured domestic German version of Faust has now been meticulously reconstructed by Luciano Berriatua for Filmoteca Espanola from which this newly restored transfer is sourced.

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DVD Details

Certificate: PG

Publisher: Eureka / Masters of Cinema

Length: 110 mins

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Format: DVD B&W

Region: 2

Released: 24th June 2006

Cat No: EKA40210

Subtitles: English

DVD Extras

  • 2 discs
  • Newly found domestic German print featuring completely different takes and much better resolution than the previously seen export print released outside of Germany
  • Progressively encoded transfer, with original German intertitles
  • Full-length audio commentary by critics David Ehrenstein and Bill Krohn
  • Tony Rayns on Faust - a 20-minute video piece
  • Faust: The different versions - a 20-minute video comparison by R. Dixon Smith
  • Improved optional English subtitles
  • Production stills and promotional art gallery
  • 28-page booklet with a new essay by Peter Spooner, and archive reprints.

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Community Reviews

by Anon on 14th January 2005

This highly impressive special edition of one of the classics of European cinema was made possible by a newly-found domestic German print of Murnau's film, and the r... Read on

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