Coming off the international success of The Last Laugh, director F.W. Murnau and star Emil Jannings reunite to tell the story of a man whose deal with the devil (Jannings as an impish Mephisto) leads to his ultimate comeuppance. Drawing from German folk legend and its subsequent theatrical adaptations by Goethe, Gounod, and Marlowe, Faust is a dazzling showcase of Murnau’s unbridled vision matched with the sublime excess of UFA style. A masterpiece of visual power and potent storytelling, the film is rendered in atmospheric, shadowy tableaux reminiscent of Rembrandt, Breughel, Dürer, and Caravaggio. Its obvious virtuosity allowed Murnau to travel to America with a suitable calling card, where both he and Jannings went on to win Oscars at the first-ever Academy Awards for their subsequent American debuts: Murnau’s Sunrise took home Unique and Artistic Production and Best Cinematography while Jannings won Best Actor for The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. Murnau stayed in Hollywood though his career was cut short due to a car crash days before the premiere of what proved to be his final film (1931’s Tabu) , Jannings wound up returning to Germany where he became a fixture of Nazi cinema.
“At the peak of his career, [Murnau] was able to mobilize every means to guarantee total spatial control. All of the forms that appears—in the faces, bodies, snow, light, fire, clouds—have been shaped or redesigned by his imagination based on an exact understanding of the effect they create. Never has a film left so little to chance.”—Eric Rohmer
Live musical accompaniment by Robert Israel
Bing Theater | General admission $5 | Tickets: 323 857-6010 or purchase online.