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
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

VIDEO: Police seek suspect in molotov cocktail attack…

Police released surveillance video on Wednesday in hopes of tracking down a man who threw a molotov cocktail inside a Brooklyn corner store.

Local

City Council budget asks for 1,000 additional NYPD…

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito unveiled the City Council's budget priorities on Wednesday, including the extra cops for the NYPD at a cost of $94.3 million.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

Books

A debut novel about fate, love and moving…

Pia Padukone talks about her debut novel, "Where Earth Meets Water."

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

NFL

Giants 2014 regular season schedule

The Giants will play five prime-time games — against the Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Colts and Cowboys.

MLB

Jets 2014 regular season schedule

The Jets will play three prime-time games — against the Bears, Patriots and Dolphins — as well as a CBS national game in Week 2 at Green Bay.

NBA

Phil Jackson talked to Steve Kerr, pushes for…

Knicks president Phil Jackson spoke to the media for the first time since firing head coach Mike Woodson on Monday.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."