Mephisto (Emil Jannings) is pretty much screwing the world over, sending disease and hunger and death. To put an end to all this, an archangel delivers a wager to him: if Mephisto can get the scholar Faust’s (Gösta Ekmann) soul, the earth is his. If Faust stays strong, Mephisto has to stop. So Mephisto comes to earth to tempt Faust: he gives him knowledge and youth at first and later helps him to get through to the young Marguerite (Camilla Horn).
I still think Faust is a crappy story (even when it’s not told by Goethe), but my goodness, Murnau is one hell of a filmmaker. I seriously loved the film. Unfortunately I did not love the music that accompanied it.
I know it’s a shame but I never so an entire Murnau film before this one – but now I really, really need to. What a fantastic, wonderful, talented and competent filmmaker. I was really impressed. Add to that the pretty cool special effects and Emil Jannings who is pretty much awesomeness personified. His Mephisto is extremely funny and really the highlight of the film.
Though admittedly, Gösta Ekmann and Camilla Horn have especially hard jobs because I just can’t stand either Faust or Marguerite. [If Faust would have been my story, I probably would have strangled Faust before he ever met Marguerite, obliterating the entire thing.] What I mean is, no wonder they didn’t impress me that much.
Despite that, I’d watch this movie again in a heartbeat. That’s how good it was.
Which just makes it too bad the the music can’t keep up with it. At first it’s quite good and a great background. But it gets a little discordant towards the end and honestly a little grating. I did not love it.
Summarising: Watch the film, but find other music to go with it.