Faust is Speechless

Sound in movies advanced the medium tremendously. Imagine watching Star Wars without hearing Darth Vader’s voice. Imagine Forrest Gump without his accent. I’m so thankful that movies today are not speechless, but anyone who has any knowledge of film history knows that some of the most influential movies ever are silent films. The works of Griffith, Chaplin, Murnau, and others helped shape the movies we watch today. So even though there are more entertaining films out there, I have joined Lesya at Eternity of Dream and 22 other bloggers in paying tribute to silent classics during the Speechless blogathon. Our task was to watch a silent movie that we had not seen and write a review of it. I ended up picking F.W. Murnau’s Faust. The review that follows is fairly quick and simple. If you would like to read other people’s contributions to the blogathon, Lesya will post a post with links to all the participants’ reviews later.

F.W. Murnau directed 21 movies before he passed away, four of them in particular are acclaimed classics. He made Nosferatu in 1922, The Last Laugh in 1924, Faust in 1926, and Sunrise (which placed in the Top Ten Greatest Films of All-Time in this year’s Sight and Sound poll) in 1927. He is remembered as a master director and after watching any of these movies, it is easy to see why. Faust is full of Murnau’s genius. It is incredibly ambitious for a film of the era and the filmmakers seem to have had an answer for every problem that came their way. The effects are stunning and memorable images are conjured up from the darkest corners of the film. The most unforgettable being this one:

The story of Faust follows a man who pledges eternal loyalty to Satan in return for youth and power while on earth. That premise is actually what attracted me to the film in the first place, because of the obvious challenges that it presented for the filmmakers. As I said before, the movie has answers for those challenges and the now-dated effects still add to a haunting movie. The only problem I had with Faust was that I became a little bored by the end. For a one hour and forty-five minute silent film, the movie entertains fairly well, but I wouldn’t call it a ‘captivating’ movie. Fans of early cinema will probably think that Faust is a masterpiece. I might have thought so if it was a little shorter. This is a movie that I certainly appreciate, but I don’t plan on watching again.

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4 responses to “Faust is Speechless

  1. I have similar thoughts with you on this one. I enjoyed it, but couldn’t really find myself loving it as much as I did with the other film I’ve see of Murnau, Nosferutu. Still is a very good film though. Nice review.

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