Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at 7:30pm
F.W. Murnau's Faust

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

Introduced by Mary Gaitskill

Faust, F.W. Murnau, 1926, digital projection, 106 mins

Faust was a flop. The last of F.W. Murnau’s German films before he decamped to Hollywood, it was supposed to be a blockbuster for UFA, but proved unsuccessful with audiences and critics alike. The latter derided Murnau’s idiosyncratic adaptation of this legendary deal with the devil, which drew from a variety of earlier retellings: the 16th century chapbook, Marlowe, Goethe. Its current reputation, as one of the most astonishing and rigorously organized works of the silent era, would take some time to develop. “Murnau,” wrote Eric Rohmer, years later, “was able to mobilize all those forces which guaranteed him complete control of the film's space. Every formal element—the faces and bodies of the actors, objects, landscape, and such natural phenomena as snow, light, fire, and clouds—have been created or recreated with an exact knowledge of their visual effect. Never has a film left so little to chance."

Even more recently, Mary Gaitskill recalled an indelible encounter with a clip from the movie, discovered online a decade prior. “I hadn’t yet read Goethe’s play or seen Murnau’s film,” she explained. “I knew the story, almost everybody basically knows the story of the jaded scholar who, lusting for worldly delight, signs a pact with Mephistopheles. That was enough for me to understand and to feel, to believe, the reality of the segment: the flailing despair, the futile vanity, the experience of running through a live, tactile murk of demons and uncomprehending humans, moving slo-mo through their own fates, trying to undo something that can’t be undone. The unjust infliction of suffering by mechanical systems, the useless pity. And love. How love, even if it is powerless to change anything, can transform everything in a moment, even if it's only for a moment. How a loved one’s face, even if it is aged and unbeautiful, can appear exquisite—even young again, if you knew them then.”

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.