Jan Svankmajer's long awaited follow up to his acclaimed "Alice" is an equally astounding version of the myth of Dr. Faustus. Merging live action with stop motion and claymation, Svankmajer has created an unsettling univer... more »se presided over by diabolic life size marionettes and haunted by skulking human messengers from hell.« less
"Wonderful blend of real-time and stop-motion storytelling by a master of the surreal. An apparently ordinary everyman is led by curiousity into a dilapidated building which turns out to be a strange cross of theatre, a puppeteer's workshop, and an alchemical laboratory. Suddenly, he finds himself becoming the legendary character Dr. Faust, selling his soul to the devil to gain magical powers.
Jan Svankmajer is the real sorcerer here and blends stage sets with real settings, seven foot puppets with live actors, and makes magic of it all.
The film has been dubbed for English audiences, but I have never seen a less obtrusive film dub. The voice performances are excellent and actually add to the surreal quality of the film.
Just one caution: This is not a "family" film. There is some adult material, so don't confuse this with Bass and Rankin style claymation."
Faust - as dark as it can get
"Big Band" John | NC United States | 07/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The thing about Jan Svankmajer is that he makes you rethink how you view reality. When dealing with the supernatural, this plays perfectly.I need not go into the details of the story of Faust (this takes from 2 of the legends of Faust). What I will say is that it does what a great thriller film should do... scare without disgusting. The problem with modern horror is the intent on lots of blood and gore. That's not to say that is absent here, but it's used in such a surreal way that goes beyond the concept of hollywood. The use of Puppets (marionettes are used a lot) makes this unique. In fact, the puppets look so worn down, it adds to the atmosphere that something evil is lurking here. There are many elements that don't make sense while watching this. However, when the end arrives, you will understand everything that happened. No loose ends are left for the imagination, but at the same time, everything is left to it as well. Brilliant.This is, to an extent, an "Arts" film for the US, especially since it's foreign. Don't let this disuade you from checking it out, and don't give up on it early because it's wierd. Sit it out, and you should be pleasantly suprised in the end."
Salvador Fortuny Miró | Tarragona , Spain | 08/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jan Svankmajer was during the 70's the headmaster of the black theater of Prague and actually the mind of the surrealist group in this same city. Black humor, hermetist thought, shocking analogies, traditional czec puppets and different animation techniques are the common elements in his films that normally work like a deformed mirror of human behaviour using fine irony and caricature to show us the absurd of social conventions and its repressive effects, and the thin border that separate man and automaton in mechanizied societies.
Goethe's and Marlowe's Faust, an opera of french composer Gounot and dark alchemy are the inspiration of this surreal, original and disturbing film, where he transfers to the famous myth his anguish about human alienation, blending live-action and human puppets with cool stop-motion animation and combining much of the ingredients and techniques of his previous films. In my opinion this film and his Jabberwocky, a free adaptation of Lewis Carrol's absurd poem, are two excellent examples of the posibilities of imagination and cinema ."
Pay attention...it's worth it!
Eduardo Nietzsche | Houston | 03/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was simply the most visually and conceptually mesmerizing film I've seen in many years. It seamlessly melds the classic "Faust" story (a man selling his soul to the devil for a lifetime of earthly powers but who desperately regrets it at the end of his days) with modern-day capitalist society seen from the arresting perspective of Prague, The Czech Republic---where communism fell only recently, in 1989, and where people are still adjusting to the monumental cultural shift therein. Even though the film is mostly silent, it's hard to take your eyes off the screen. Svankmejer is almost never predictable, and the surrealism and magic realism he infuses the film with keeps you constantly guessing what's coming next, and usually finding yourself unable to do so correctly. Much of it reminds me of "Alice in Wonderland"---you are transported into a parallel universe where all sorts of bizarre inexplicable things keep happening, it all makes no sense yet it does make sense. Of course, Svankmejer's famoust clay-mation plays a HUGE part in creating this surreal otherworld (he did the clay-mation for a couple of Peter Gabriel's videos, most famously "Sledgehamer"). After a while you simply give up and just sit back and just EXPERIENCE the film without trying to put it into any sort of predictable logical structure---which is exactly how you later start to see one emerging. Truly, cinematic artistry of the highest order."
Uniquely Czech twist on the classic tale
John Ronald | Sugar Land, Texas | 12/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very good retelling of the FAUST legend, borrowing evenly from Goethe & Marlowe's versions...but it is also a unique entity in itself, in that it mixes in the Surreal--yes, but not just any surrealism but a surrealism with a distinctly CZECH flavor...This film certainly pays indirect homage to Franz Kafka, and has a wry, dark, very Czech sense of humor to it all throughout. This film made me laugh out loud with wicked laughter more than once. If you've ever read/liked Hasek, Hrabal, Kundera, Monikova, et. al. you will love this movie. I must state in conclusion that my review is biased; I'm positively in love with most all of Svankmajer's works, and with Czech writers/literature/cinema in general. But his version of FAUST is by far my favorite. (That someone could give this film only 1 star blows my mind; That's verging on slander, IMHO)"