Hermann falls in love with Dorothea, a young refugee who is passing through his village. Since Hermann comes from a rather rich family and Dorothea is penniless, he can’t simply marry her. To make sure that she is of sound character, the Priest and the Apothecary ask for character witnesses. When those are overwhelmingly positive, Hermann brings Dorothea home – introducing her as a maid though.
Hermann and Dorothea is not a play but a poem and Kirchner decided not to adapt it as a play, either, but to have Happel and Schwab dramatically read the poem instead. I think, I would have appreciated a drama version of it a little more.
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).
Faust is the most famous work by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. [I’m only talking about the first part here because I don’t like Goethe and even people who like Goethe think that part two sucks.]
Mephistopheles/The Devil bets God that he can tempt Faust, an intelligent scholar and a great thinker. God laughs off Mephistopheles claims, but Faust actually makes a deal with Mephistopheles: His soul against a lifetime of knowledge and pleasure.
Probably everybody in Austria in a secondary education has had to read Faust. Since I spent a year in Brazil during my school time, I fell through the cracks. Which was just as well for me because ever since I read “Heidenröslein” and its rape-apologia (more explicit in the first version, a little more insidious in the second), I have hated Goethe with the fiery passion of a thousand dying suns.
Anyway, I’m telling you this because I wanted you to know where I’m coming from when I’m saying: I’ve been meaning to read Faust for almost 10 years now, because I wanted to rectify my embarassing lack of education in that regard. And I expected Faust to be so great that I would have to, grudgingly, proclaim Goethe’s genius. But actually, Faust sucked.