This week’s repertory film: ‘Faust’

Sokurov’s film is the best kind of satire, because it is irredeemably tragic at its core.

“Faust,” directed by Aleksandr Sokurov, will be shown at the Film
Society of Lincoln Center at 9:00 pm on
February 28.

Screening as part of the annual Film Comment Selects Festival at FSLC, Aleksandr Sokurov’s “Faust” is the most complex and beguiling film released in the past year. A shrewd adaptation of Goethe’s theatrical landmark that recalibrates the story but remains faithful to its spirit, it functions as the satyr play capstone to the director’s Men of Power trilogy about Hitler, Lenin, and Hirohito (“Moloch,” “Taurus,” and “The Sun”).

The Mephistophelean character in this version is the town Moneylender, played brilliantly by Anton Adasinsky as a kind of grotesque commedia dell’arte combination of Harlequin and Pantalone, resembling a human turtle with a diminutive phallus attached backwards. Minimizing the fantastic elements of the plot and focusing on the pain and squalor of late medieval village life, Sokurov subverts Faust’s thirst for knowledge as a benign desire for money and love (i.e. pleasure) that quickly grows into a selfish lust for experience and power.

Faust’s venal narcissism functions as a grotesque mirror of twentieth century autocracy,
a tyrant in miniature pointing the way to imminent atrocities by film’s end. Last seen scaling a mountain in search of the sublime, Sokurov like Goethe sees Faust’s German Romanticism as a dangerous reaction to the failed dreams of the Enlightenment. Similarly, Wagner’s horrifyingly laughable homunculus, a miscarried effort to create an Übermensch, is a precursor to the sycophants and panegyrists of power and their jealous grasping for the scraps of authority.

The Moneylender, though inclined to defecate in church, is also the character closest to wisdom and reason, if not goodness. But as Wagner says, there might not be Good in the world, but there is certainly Evil, despite the amoral protest of the atheist Faust that such a claim is wholly illogical. Faust is certainly not evil, and neither really is the Moneylender, yet they leave a path of murder and devastation in their wake. Nor is Professor Faust as selflessly noble as his father, a doctor who administers a free medical clinic for the poor that never bothers to keep track of the number of patients that his efforts have killed over the years.

Comic, sardonic, and deeply nihilistic, Sokurov’s film is the best kind of satire because it is irredeemably tragic at its core.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Actor Tracy Morgan wasn't wearing seatbelt in June…

By Jonathan Stempel(Reuters) - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by…

National

Connected cars: Is AT&T leaving Verizon in its…

By Marina Lopes and Bernie WoodallWASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Verizon Communications, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier known for its widespread coverage, is falling behind its biggest…

Local

Grand jury begins hearing evidence in Eric Garner…

A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday relating to the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in July. Garner, 43, of Staten Island,…

Local

Mayor announces plan for solar panels at city…

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the planned installation of 24 new solar panels at city schools on Monday morning. The panels, a $28 million investment,…

Going Out

Taste what Lower Manhattan is cooking at today's…

The Lower Manhattan food scene has changed a lot in three years, which you can taste first hand when the neighborhood's food festival returns. On…

Television

Review: 'Selfie' tries to coast on the charm…

"Selfie" offers cute leads and some good jokes, but focuses too much on a vague distaste for social media.

Movies

Review: Jason Reitman's 'Men, Women & Children' is…

Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" takes a hysterical and melodramatic look at disconnection in the digital age, turning strong actors into zombies.

Television

TV watch list, Monday, Sept. 29: 'Castle,' 'Mom'…

Tune in for the season premieres of "Castle," "Mom" and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…

Education

3 ways to save money on college application…

With the average high school student applying to 5 or 6 schools, hefty application and test score fees can add up quickly. We’ve compiled some…

Education

Nap rooms: The latest college campus trend

College is a time filled with new experiences (and lots of schoolwork), leaving little time for students to get a good night’s rest. University of…