a film by Jan Svankmajer
Czech Republic | 1994 | 97 min | Czech with English Subs
Jan Svankmajer’s Faust is a rendering of the infamous Dr. Faustus fable of temptation and damnation. Borrowing freely from both Marlowe and Goethe and ancient folktales and timeless myths, the story follows a lonely Czech businessman who sells his soul to the devil in return for 24 years of self-indulgence. A visually fantastic combination of live-action, claymation, puppet theatre, stop-motion animation, and other special effects, Svankmajer creates an unsettling universe presided over by diabolic life-size marionettes and haunted by sinister human messengers from hell.
“A totally bizarre mix of live action, animation and life-size puppets, there is both an unsettling nightmarish quality to this film, as well as an eccentric humour. The surreal imagery and weird human/puppet interchanges make for some astonishing cinema. The experience feels very much like stepping into a very believable but totally absurd parallel universe, where some of the more unsavoury aspects of humankind are laid bare. Completely mad and not to be missed.”
“With its blend of live action, chattering marionettes, and weird, fleshy stop-motion sequences—not to mention the pitch-black of the humor—it throws you off balance more thoroughly than any other movie in town.”
—THE NEW YORKER
“The director grafts a wealth of themes, motifs, allusions and gags, his method an expertly executed, profoundly imaginative combination of live action, claymation, puppet theatre, stop-motion animation and special effects…this is a film which galvanizes the mind and astonishes the eye. In a word, magic.”
“The devil summoned by Faust’s magic wand produces such genuine terror that, even though Faust is only a puppet, we rush, like the protagonist, to escape from his grasp.”