Sokurov’s „Faust“ is difficult to appreciate without knowing the other three films of his tetralogy (about Hitler, Lenin and Hirohito) and recognizing this last one as kind of prequel. After watching it in cinema some years ago I gave it a second chance and found many parts very intriguing. I like the references to Murnaus „Faust“ (see especially the beginning) but also the detailed scenario.
Perhaps I am merely too unfamiliar with the legend of Faust, or with the work and style of Sokurov, to properly appreciate this film. However, while succeeding in being exceptionally surreal and unsettling, the film failed to grab my interest, or sanity for that matter. While clearly crafted with care, the lack of ability to extract clear meaning from this desaturated picture fills me with a feeling of pretension.
Definitely a challenging film. There are bodies in constant motion, though they don't always seem to know where they're going. People spin around each other with a gravitational force. The frame itself lends itself to the claustrophobia that seems self-imposed. All of this can lead to a kind of confusion as to what exactly is going on. Faust's journey is to find what he will sell his soul for.