“Reaffirming his hard-won spot in Russia’s mighty filmmaking pantheon, Alexander Sokurov finally wraps up his monumental “Men of Power” tetralogy, kicked off with Moloch in 1999, with this freestyle fantasy version of Faust, loosely based on the famed literary interpretations by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Thomas Mann.
Sokurov’s lavish quartet of idiosyncratic portraits has thus far concentrated on contentious or downright infamous historical icons of the twentieth century: Adolph Hitler (Moloch), Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (Taurus) and Emperor Hirohito (The Sun). This new instalment aligns with certain key themes in the series (such as the insidiously corrupting effects of power). But by turning to folklore and setting the story in the nineteenth century, Sokurov’s Faust represents a major departure. Writhing in the grip of enforced ignorance, Faust (Johannes Zeiler) would like nothing better than to cast away the blindfold of religion and swim an ocean of unlimited scientific knowledge. And that’s about the closest this film will ever get to established takes on the German legend.
Filming in numerous beautiful locations throughout the Czech Republic and collaborating with a wealth of talented actors (including legendary Fassbinder muse Hannah Schygulla), Sokurov opens the door on a world filled with metaphor and visual symbolism, represented by a flow of detailed dialogue expertly painted on a canvas of characteristically elaborate camera movements. Faust takes us on a fast-paced ride into the absurdity of life itself in the company of an impossible demon who’s ready to satisfy his every wish — for a price, of course. All you have to do is forget everything you thought you knew about the Faustian legend and start fresh. Besides, what is the human soul if not the most uncharted territory of all?”
Somewhat lengthy preview embedded down below: