November 15, 2020
One of the most expensive films of its time, and it shows. Murnau made great use of the budget to create an outlandish looking world. Impressive special effects and smart camera work create a mysterious and intriguing atmosphere, once again affirming my respect for the German Expressionists. But man that middle part was a downer.
Murnau adapts Goethe's Faust, the tale of a righteous man who gets challenged by the devil in order to see whether he could succumb to the evil side. The devil sends a plague to the village where Faust lives, hoping to destroy his faith in God. At first, he seems to be succeeding, but then Faust finds a book that can help him summon the devil.
The first and final 30 minutes are really something else, but the middle part is quite cheesy. Murnau struggles with the stark switch in styles and the somewhat tepid romance that makes up the middle half really doesn't help. It's a shame, because there are some impressive scenes here. Just not enough to keep me glued to the screen for the entire runtime.