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Directed by Istvan Szabo
Produced in 1980
Main Language - German with English subtitles
Based on Klaus Mann's 1936 novel, this powerful Faustian tragedy tells the true story of young, impoverished but ambitious actor Hendrik Hofgen and his rise to prominence under the wing of the Third Reich.
Playing the part of Hofgen with stone-faced certainty, Klaus Maria Brandauer is electrifying. Hofgen cares little for politics and lives only for his craft. As the rise of Hitler threatens the liberal left, his friends, including dancer Juliette, protest against the climate of fear and flee 1930s bohemian Berlin. This makes no impression on Hofgen. He craves fame and through an artistically inclined General who becomes the actor's benefactor, marries the daughter of the head of the State Theatre.
Here he begins to tread a morally corrupt path that he cannot escape and becomes embroiled in performing propaganda plays for the Reich. He achieves his dream of success when he is finally cast in the role of Mephistopheles in Goethe's 'Faust'. In doing so he becomes Germany's most popular actor. Of course the trade off is his freedom, moral reputation - and always under the eye of the self-aggrandized Hoppe - possibly his life. As his world unravels, Hendrik finds his greatest performance is keeping up appearances for his Nazi patrons.
All the elements of Mephisto – staging, framing, lighting, cinematography, performances – combine to create a powerful masterwork of world cinema, for which Hungarian director Szabo was awarded the 1981 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Brandauer also went on to star in Szabo's 1985 triumph Colonel Redl.
Winning the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1982, Szabo's most widely acclaimed film features a compelling performance from Brandauer as an actor whose refusal to face reality turns life into a charade. Adapted from the novel by Klaus Mann, this is a disturbing look at the ego faced with the seductive nature of evil. An exceptional and cautionary film.
Publisher: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Length: 139 mins
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Cat No: FHED1868
Format: DVD Colour
by Anon on 14th February 2001
For actor Hofgen, acceptance is his only identity. His pursuit of it leads him from the left-wing to an acceptance of Nazism. He modifies his performance of Mephisto... Read on
For actor Hofgen, acceptance is his only identity. His pursuit of it leads him from the left-wing to an acceptance of Nazism. He modifies his performance of Mephistopheles from "villain" to "hero" to fit in with the Prime Minister's concept. He reinterprets Hamlet from "neurotic degenerate" to "hard man". His rewards come to a brutal end when he is taken and thrust into the arena of the nearly-completed Olympic Stadium. There, diminished by space, blinded by searchlights, he is derisively shown his powerlessness. Hide