Faust (1994)

So you get stuff like this weird claymation baby... that's cool, right?

So you get stuff like this weird claymation baby… that’s cool, right?

Writing this movie blog has really exposed my literary shortcomings. Imagine, a grown woman who’s never read Faust! The closest I’ve come is Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, which I understand draws heavily from Goethe’s Faust (and is amazing, in case you’ve never read it – go out and get a copy right now). Even so, I’ve never read the actual Faust, but I must have seen a bazillion film adaptations of the thing. And, out of all of those adaptations, Jan Švankmajer’s has to be the most entertaining, creative, and hilarious of them all.

The story starts off with a rather miserable-

Our hero,  but who's pulling the strings?

Our hero, but who’s pulling the strings?

looking fellow is on his way home from work. A man on the street shoves a map into his hands. Uninterested, our hero crumples it up and throws it out, but the thing mysteriously appears again in his apartment. Naturally, the man is curious, and so follows the map to a warehouse where, suddenly, the man is put on stage and is unexpectedly cast as Faust. Whether he likes it or not, he’s about to make a deal with the devil.

Here’s where watching films with an English faustfinalpuppetPhD Candidate is helpful: the film flips between different literary versions of Faust, at times quoting directly from Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Goethe’s Faust among other versions – obviously subtleties that were lost on me. This did not affect my overall enjoyment of the film, however. It’s so visually exciting, almost everything else is secondary.

For the Švankmajer-uninitiated, let me explain: Švankmajer’s a stop-motion animation genius, so we aren’t just watching actors at work, we’re watching his art, too. And his art is so gloriously weird! Personally, I think this is a great way to watch a classic story unfold: with ultimate weirdness and coolness.


2 Responses to “Faust (1994)”

  1. 1 ladyfaceladyface
    September 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I haven’t read Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus or Goethe’s Faust — and I gave up on the Master and Margarita!

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