Before plumbing the depths of horror and despair with such films as Faust and The Last Laugh, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau tested the waters with this moody drama of a storm-bound manor and the grim mystery that lurks within. A hunting party is interrupted by the arrival of a notorious Count (Lothar Mehnert), who is believed to have murdered his brother. The uninvited guest sets in motion an elaborate plot to resurrect the ghosts of the past and bring to light the dark secret that lies at the center of his brother s death. The foreboding atmosphere and psychological complexity inspired Murnau to delve deeper into the horror genre, which he did the following year, with the immortal vampire tale Nosferatu (1922).
Mobilizing the full resources of the Ufa Studios, F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu, Sunrise) orchestrated a colossal adaptation of Goethe s FAUST that ranks alongside Fritz Lang s Metropolis as the greatest achievement of the German silent cinema. Gösta Ekman stars as the titular alchemist who, struggling with his faith amidst a devastating plague, is offered the power to cure and the gift of youth... in exchange for his soul. As the diabolical Mephisto, Emil Jannings (The Last Laugh) delivers a performance of operatic scale and intensity, by turns charming, comical, and horrific. This special Kino edition contains the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation s meticulous restoration of the original German version of the film (with unique hand-painted intertitles), as well as a lengthier alternate cut prepared by the Ufa Studios in 1930.
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