One year before 'Metropolis' changed the filmmaking landscape forever, a little horror film known as 'Faust' came out and shocked the world. Before 'Metropolis', this 'Faust' movie was the most expensive movie ever made and took a long time to shoot, due to director F.W. Murnau's ('Nosferatu') need for perfection. It was like a very early Stanley Kubrick production with hundreds and hundreds of takes being done on one single shot.
The story of 'Faust' has been around maybe as early as the 1400s, but this was one of the first adaptations of the story on film, which is intense, sadistic, scary, and at sometimes, quite funny. Many filmmakers and creators have adapted this story countless times over the years with television series, movies, and stage plays. There was even a 2011 movie version that did a good job of conveying the story, but it all reverts back to this 1926 silent version. Murnau was an innovator and pioneer in filmmaking, and with 'Faust' he perfectly showed how such an evil and sadistic story could be quite beautiful on almost every level.
With a story about a man who makes a deal with a demon or the devil, this is a simple story of sin and redemption. Mephisto (the demon) has a wager with an Archangel that he can morally corrupt anyone, and if he wins, he can reign his darkness upon Earth. That's where a guy named Faust comes in, who tries to be a good man, but is swayed by the demon himself into temptation through love, lust, and murder. Murnau shows Faust's transformation perfectly and without sound no less.
This is truly a work of art and in order to see where a ton of young filmmakers drew inspiration and ideas from, this version of 'Faust' was an early stepping stone for many. One of the greats.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This release comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc and a DVD version of the film as well, both of which are Region A locked from Kino Lober in their Classics division. Both discs are housed in a hard blue plastic cast with no inserts.
This 1926 version of 'Faust' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Kino Classics has done a very good job in restoring this film for this release, however there are still tons of issues due to the multiple sources this derived from and the fact that this is a ninety year old movie. That being said, the detail is quite strong in this new transfer, considering the problems here.
You won't see great facial features or intimate stitching in costumes, but there is a good sense of depth to the image now. Broad and general facial movements will be seen with ease and background items and extras are much clearer. The black and white colors are well balanced here as well. There are still tons of warps, scratches, dirt, debris, and other damage present, but it's all part of the experience. For a film this old with multiple sources trying to make its way into this one cut, the video presentation still looks very good.
This release comes with a LPCM 2.0 piano score by Javier Perez de Azpeitia and it sounds great and full from start to finish. Being a silent film, there isn't any sound other than the piano, but this score is haunting and adds to every element happening on screen. There is a moody atmosphere to it that puts you front and center into this twisted and sadistic tale.
The Language of Shadows (HD, 53 Mins.) - This is a great feature that goes off on tangents at times, but provides a great deal of information on the production of this film in 1926 and its director F.W. Murnau. It has interviews with historians and filmmakers, discussing the intense shoot, which resembles a chaotic Stanley Kubrick production. The restoration process of the film is also discussed here as well. This extra was made in 2007.
'Marguerite and Faust' Screen Tests (HD, 12 Mins.) - There was a movie called 'Marguerite and Faust' that never got past pre-production, however, these are some of the actors that auditioned for the roles with them doing their best to act sadistic and evil.
'Faust' (HD, 116 Mins.) - On the DVD disc in this release, you can watch the 1995 restored version from 1930 that is a bit longer than what's presented here on Blu-ray. Murnau made at least five cuts of the film, with different scenes, angles, and stories, and this is one of the alternate looks with a score from Tim Brock and his Olympia Chamber Orchestra.
This 1926 version of 'Faust' is one of the cinematic greats in history. A ton of filmmakers drew inspiration from this movie as well as its director F.W. Murnau. There was no movie at the time that was as expensive as this was or made like this one. The story, performances, set pieces, and visual effects are phenomenal for the time as well. The video and audio presentations here are both quite good, considering the age and sources, and the few extras are all worth looking at. Kino did a great job here, which is why this is Highly Recommended!