FAUST (Blu-ray Edition)

A Hard Bargain

(We here at Hammer to Nail are all about true independent cinema. But we also have to tip our hat to the great films of yesteryear that continue to inspire filmmakers and cinephiles alike. This week Brad Cook dives into the new Blu-Ray release of Faust, F.W. Murnau’s classic, stylistic tale which has been released on gorgeous Blu-ray by the fine folks at Kino Lorber.)

As movies become bigger and louder, with a heaping of lens flare on top of our overflowing CGI plates, it’s not a bad thing to occasionally revisit the films that created the recipes which have now become super-sized meals. A silent movie like German director F.W. Murnau’s 1926 effort Faust may feel like having to eat your vegetables, but it can also serve as a palette cleanser between Star Wars Episode VII trailers.

Kino Lorber has released Murnau’s classic in a newly restored version, complete with a documentary that details the making of it and the recent restoration. His story of an alchemist named Faust who makes a series of increasingly dire deals with the devil, Mephisto, is based on various versions of the old German folktale. It’s a tragedy whose themes still resonate today. For its time, Faust featured impressive special effects that used elaborate miniatures – They still hold up well, believe it or not.

This Blu-ray release features a DVD with an alternate cut of the film from 1930. As explained in great detail in The Language of Shadows: Faust, a 53-minute documentary on the Blu-ray platter, Murnau assembled several versions of the movie for release in other countries. A spiritual predecessor to Stanley Kubrick, he shot many scenes over and over again and drove some of his cast members to exhaustion, but their surviving descendants talk about how Murnau was still able to inspire devotion among those who stepped in front of a camera for him. The documentary covers the making of the film as well as the efforts to restore and preserve it.

Other extras in this set include screen tests from Ernst Lubitsch’s aborted Marguerite and Faust production and a choice between the original 1926 piano score and a new orchestral arrangement when watching the movie.

– Brad Cook (@BradCWriter)

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