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Haunted Screens: Expressionism in the German Cinema and its Influence

Haunted Screens: Expressionism in the German Cinema and its Influence

Bing Theater
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

Faust (1926)
Friday, October 17 | 7:30 p.m.

Introduced by cinematographer and Academy governor John Bailey. Live musical accompaniment by Michael Mortilla.

Four years after Nosferatu, F.W. Murnau directed this even more visually adventurous film. Retelling the immortal story of a man who sells his soul to the devil, Murnau’s Faust, alongside Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, represents the pinnacle of German Expressionist cinema. Swedish theater legend Gösta Ekman played the cursed Faust, and Emil Jannings, winner of the first Best Actor Oscar for his performances in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh, is the impishly demonic Mephisto. Drawing from German folk legend and its subsequent theatrical adaptations by Goethe, Gounod and Marlowe, Faust is a dazzling showcase of Murnau’s unbridled vision matched with the sublime excess of UFA style. A masterpiece of visual power and potent storytelling, the film is rendered in atmospheric, shadowy tableaux reminiscent of Rembrandt, Breughel, Dürer and Caravaggio. 

1926, 106 minutes, black and white, DCP | Directed by F. W. Murnau; written by Hans Kyser, based on the play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; with Gösta Ekman, Emil Jannings, Camilla Horn, Frieda Richard, William Dieterle.

Faust (1994)
Friday, October 17 | 9:30 p.m.

(New restoration)
Czech artist and “militant surrealist” Jan Švankmajer brings his own distinctive style and sensibility to this story of a satanic bargain, incorporating material from several versions of the classic tale. Mixing live action and his trademark stop-motion animation, Svankmajer depicts Faust as an everyman turned literal puppet in a nightmarish Prague. Theater and claymation, marionettes and alchemy, horror and wonder all meld in Švankmajer’s sumptuous imagination.

1994, 97 minutes, color, DCP | Written and directed by Jan Švankmajer, based on the play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the novel by Christian Dietrich Grabbe and the play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe; with Petr Čepek, Jan Kraus, Vladimír Kudla, Antonin Zacpal.

Faust (1994)