From the nightmarish sky-ride of the Four Horsemen to the glorious ascension of Gretchen and Faust amidst the flames of their own bier, F. W. Murnau packed Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage with a wealth of stunning images, depicting an occult world of darkness and mystery where the supernatural is always lurking at the edge of perception. Faust (Gösta Ekman) bargains with Mephisto (the malevolent Emil Jannings) for the power to save his village from the plague. Once the deal is struck, Faust is given his youth back so that he may court Gretchen (Camilla Horn), with tragic results for both. Murnau's Faust is visually gorgeous, but not mere eye candy; this is the apex of cinematic art, in which the thrust of the tale is delivered through intelligent cinematography, brilliant sets and excellent performances — it's timeless, even though it's clearly from another, perhaps more sophisticated era of storytelling. The Webster Film Series presents Faust at 8 p.m. at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or, with live piano soundtrack courtesy of Carl Pandolfi. Tickets are $5 to $6.
Sun., Sept. 21, 2008

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