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F.W. Murnau's Faust on dual format in August from Masters of Cinema

16 May 2014

Eureka! Entertainment yesterday announced the UK dual format release of Faust, the final German film by master filmmaker F. W. Murnau (Nosferatu, Der letzte Mann, Sunrise, Tabu). Starring Emil Jannings as the devil Mephisto – Jannings being the unparalleled actor of '20s and '30s film (Der letzte Mann, The Last Command, The Blue Angel) – Faust features an extravaganza of special effects that have never been matched in silent or talking film.

Murnau’s 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, eine deutsche Volkssage [Faust: A German Folktale] 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 (particularly using the latter’s tone). Faust’s tale is a classic one 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 (Werner Fuetterer) 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. The Masters of Cinema Series is presenting the original German domestic cut of Faust for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK.

You can read our review of the previous Masters of Cinema DVD release of the film here.

Faust will be released on UK dual format (Blu-ray and DVD) on 18th August 2014 by Eureka! Entertainment ast part of the Masters of Cinema series at the RRP of £19.99.

Boasting a gorgeous 1080p transfer of the domestic German print, with original German intertitles and optional English subtitles, the release will have the following extras:

  • Full-length audio commentary by critics David Ehrenstein and Bill Krohn

  • A 20-minute video piece with critic Tony Rayns discussing the film

  • 40-page Booklet with an essay by Peter Spooner, writing on the film by Éric Rohmer, and rare archival imagery

  • More details to be announced closer to release.

We don't have a trailer, but do have an excerpt from the Tony Rayns video piece: