Murnau's version of the German legend is a magical Devil's fairy tale about the fight of good vs. evil. Jannings is slyly creeping around screwing Ekman's Faust over, darkness seems to engulf everyone, and the gorgeous visual effects are especially nice in the discussion of two opposite powers. I highly doubt modern cinema can achieve something so profound yet so quietly epic in scope.
"moment, last forever!" what's so exceptional in that sentence, since we all want an infinite sequence of time particles to be strewn upon us with limitless generosity? except that this sentence is aimed at terminating faust's eternal living, while we hope to achieve it by pronouncing it.
Essential cinema. Murnau's legacy as a silent filmmaker though solidified by 'Sunrise' and 'Nosferatu' is equally supported by this incredible morality tale. While not exactly faithful to the Goethe tome, Murnau puts a cinematic take on the tale that is a staggering and sober work. Emil Jannings is perfection as Mephisto but Gosta Ekman is equally impressive. Some of the effects work is still just breathtaking.
A reminder to today's CGI boffins that special effects are nothing without reliable artistic judgement, a cogent approach to the art direction ("look") of the film... and of course a good film to put them in.
I dug the sets, camera work and Jannings' camp. The religious themes of the fable this was adapted from don't do much for me on a personal level but that never got in the way for me enjoy the film's merits.
The first and third acts of Faust are thrilling, the perfect showcase for F.W. Murnau's bold visual imagination. It's like a symphony of cinematic power as heaven, hell, and earth collide with one another in the tale of the alchemist Faust's encounter with the demon Mephisto. Emil Jannings is absolutley magnetic as Mephisto as well. But the middle just drags on too long and lacks the power of the rest of the film.