Listing for Thursday's Cine Salon:
(1926, Dir. F.W. Murnau)
Murnau's film draws on older traditions of the legendary tale of Faust as well as on Goethe's classic version.
This carefully composed and innovative feature contains many memorable images and special effects, with careful attention paid to contrasts of light and dark. Particularly striking is the sequence in which the giant, horned and black winged figure of Mephisto hovers over a town sowing the seeds of plague. The acting by Ekman (who miraculously transforms, in the course of the film, from a bearded old man to a handsome youth) and the sinister, scowling, demonic Jannings is first rate and the virtually unknown actress Camilla Horn gives a memorable performance as the tragic figure of Gretchen.
I think of Murnau's Faust as a masterpiece not only of cinema, but of the human imagination. I understand that reviews at the time of its premier were lukewarm, but I honestly can't imagine not feeling grateful for the opportunity to see this film today. Moments and images from it are so powerful, they are vivid in the mind years after seeing them -- two hours in a dream world.