Faust

1926

Faust

Critics Consensus

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94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 18

91%

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User Ratings: 5,569
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Movie Info

In this German film, Emil Jannings glowers his way through the role of Mephistopholes, who offers the aging Faust an opportunity to relive his youth, the price being Faust's soul. Though highly stylized, the film is unsettlingly realistic at times, especially during the execution of the unfortunate Gretchen.

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Critic Reviews for Faust

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (1)

  • This extraordinary piece of artistry and craftsmanship integrates its dazzling special effects so seamlessly that they're indistinguishable from the film's narrative, poetry, and, above all, metaphysics.

    Sep 25, 2007 | Full Review…
  • As atmospheric and menacing a work as the expressionist movement ever produced.

    Sep 25, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Here is a picture which is as far removed from the ordinary movie as a Tintoretto painting.

    Mar 25, 2006 | Full Review…
    New York Times
    Top Critic
  • Murnau's version of the story of the man who sold his soul to the Devil (Jannings) in return for youth is visually extraordinary but dismally uneven in terms of its dramatic effect.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • I sometimes feel, in this age of expert CGI, that I am being shown too much -- that technique is pushing aside artistry and imagination. The world of Faust is never intended to define a physical universe, but is a landscape of nightmares.

    Jan 20, 2006 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Still a classic example of eye-popping excess at a time when German filmmakers were among the most innovative in the world.

    Apr 15, 2005 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for Faust

  • Dec 02, 2015
    Incredible and iconic. Momentous. Certainly between a 4.5 and 5. Putting it at 5 because it really probably deserves every bit of praise it gets.
    Kyle M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 17, 2012
    Yes, this movie has cool special effects and a classic tale, but I didn't really enjoy it. The story is great and it could have been much more exciting than what Murnau did with it. I've seen many movies with this same story, so you kinda get bored with it after a while, I suppose.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Apr 16, 2011
    The first half is off-the-wall spectacularly rendered both visually and aesthetically, and the second half is a somewhat silly romance between Mephisto and a witch and Faust and Gretchen. The finale makes up for the slow, meandering second half. Seems like it's true enough to Goethe's play, so I give it points for managing to retain its intelligence. F. W. Murnau is certainly one of the creative geniuses of cinema. For a 2 hour epic silent movie, I have to admit that it holds up pretty well. 100/100
    Simeon D Super Reviewer
  • Jul 30, 2010
    <i>''Wretched Faust, why do you seek death? You have not yet lived!''</i><p>God and Satan war over earth; to settle things, they wager on the soul of Faust, a learned and prayerful alchemist...</p><p><b>Gösta Ekman</b>: Faust</p><p><b>Emil Jannings</b>: Mephisto</p><p><i>Faust</i>(German title: <i>Faust - Eine deutsche Volkssage</i>) is a silent film produced in 1926 by UFA, directed by F.W. Murnau, starring Gösta Ekman as Faust, Emil Jannings as Mephisto, Camilla Horn as Gretchen/Marguerite, Frida Richard as her mother, Wilhelm Dieterle as her brother and Yvette Guilbert as Marthe Schwerdtlein, her aunt. Murnau's film draws on older traditions of the legendary tale of Faust as well as on Goethe's classic version. UFA wanted Ludwig Berger to direct <i>Faust</i>, as Murnau was engaged with Variety; Murnau pressured the producer and, backed by Jannings, eventually persuaded Erich Pommer to let him direct the movie.</p><p><div style="width:300px; centre"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/13711182"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/13/71/11/13711182_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"></div></div></p><p>Director F.W. Murnau is best known for <i>Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens</i>, his chilling 1922 vampire film, inspired by Bram Stoker's famous novel. However, his equally impressive <i>Faust</i> is often overlooked, despite some remarkable visuals, solid acting, a truly sinister villain, and an epic tale of love, loss, good and evil. The story concerns Faust (Gösta Ekman), an old and disheartened alchemist who forms a pact with Satan's evil demon, Mephisto (Emil Jannings). As God and the Devil wage a war over Earth, the two opposing powers reach a tentative agreement: The entire fate of Mankind will rest upon the soul of Faust, who must redeem himself from his selfish deeds before the story is complete.</p><p><i>''Death sets all men free!''</i></p><p>The film contains many memorable images and special effects, intricately woven shades of transparency and darkness. Particularly striking is the sequence in which the giant, horned and black-winged figure of Mephisto (Jannings) hovers over a town sowing the seeds of plague amongst the human inhabitants. A variation of advanced optical trickery and vibrant wondrous costumes, as well as sets, makes this film an absolute marvel to behold, with Murnau employing every known element - fire, wind, smoke, lightning - to help capture the film's sinister, themes of darkness and desperation. Double exposure, in which a piece of film is exposed twice to two different images, is used extremely effectively, being an integral component in many of the visual effect sequences.</p><p>It's often difficult to judge performances in a silent film, but I've certainly revelled in a particularly positive aptitude towards the acting talent presiding over <i>Faust.</i> It must be stated that the glorious adaptability and layered performance by Gösta Ekman, whose incarnation, given limitless evil control, is transformed from a withered old man to a handsome youth. Despite my impression that two different actors had been used, it seems that Ekman convincingly portrayed both the old and young man, which is a credit to both the actor and Murnau's make-up department (chiefly, Waldemar Jabs). Emil Jannings plays Mephisto with a sort of mysterious slyness, always thinking ahead of the game and always upto michief and menacing interference. The young actress Camilla Horn as Gretchen, the woman with whom Faust falls in love. Truly is the picturesque example of tenderness and beauty; Her acting is energetically mirrored by her asphyxiated innocence and graceful poise. She certainly shows audiences changeability with some very raw emotions in the scene's final act, when her forbidden romance with Faust sends her life in a downward spiral.</p><p><i>Faust</i> was F.W. Murnau's final film in Germany, his next project being the famous, loved American romance, <i>Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans</i>(1927). At the time, the film was the most expensive ever made by the German studio, UFA (Universum Film AG), though it would be surpassed the following year by Fritz Lang's classic science-fiction epic, <i>Metropolis.</i> Notably, there were five substantially different versions of <i>Faust</i> produced, several of these by the director himself: these include a German original version, a French version, a late German version, a bilingual version for European audiences, and an American cut compiled by Murnau especially for MGM in July 1926. Each of these altered particular scenes and camera angles, and often included material that would be more relevant to the target cultural audience (for example, the US version reportedly contains a joke about the American Prohibition era).</p><p>At the beating core of <i>Faust</i> is a tragic romance between Faust and Gretchen. I felt that the scenes when Faust is trying to coax Gretchen into loving him were the more subtle, detailed instances of the story and workings the film had to offer. In fact, <i>Faust</i> at times juggles within itself multiple genres and ways of evolving storytelling to new heights of betterment and wonderment. F.W. Murnau's <i>Faust</i> really is one of the jewels of the 1920s silent horror movement, and surely ahead of it's time. In fact not many other films or stories following on to present day have managed to capture something so entwined with both film and telling a story. We probably won't see anything like this again, after the golden age of silent cinema,and it's artistic vein of conveying emotion, titles and moving images. This is unprecedented and unrivalled, withstanding eternity and standing the test of time.</p><p><i>''The Word that wings joyfully throughout the Universe, The Word that appeases every pain and grief, The Word that expiates all human guilt, The Eternal Word...Dost thou not know it?'' </i></p>
    Alexander C Super Reviewer

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