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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Faust [Blu-ray]


(Alexander Sokurov, 2011)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Proline Film

Video: Artificial Eye



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:19:17.333

Disc Size: 43,604,764,382 bytes

Feature Size: 42,424,590,336 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 20th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio German 1824 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1824 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio German 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English (SDH), English, none



Trailer (1:45)





Description: Alexander Sokurov completes a cinematic tetralogy of films, the previous three were based on historical figures: Adolf Hitler (Moloch, 1999), Vladimir Lenin (Taurus, 2000), and Emperor Hirohito (The Sun, 2005), by delving further into the nature of power with his own unique take on Goethe’s Faust.

Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival 2011, Sokurov's FAUST is not adaptation in the usual sense but rather a 'reading of what remains between the lines'. Faust here is a thinker, a mouthpiece for ideas, a transmitter of words, a schemer, a daydreamer. An anonymous man driven by simple instincts: hunger, greed, lust. Sokurov asks us to question how this literary character informs our understanding of those previously studied abusers of power. How an unhappy life can lead some to be seduced by monstrous ideologies.



The Film:

Sokurov’s protagonist, Heinrich Faust (Johannes Zeiler) is an early-19th-century middle-European anatomist who believes that the human soul can be located within the body, messily dissecting corpses to justify his theories. His intellectual arrogance is challenged by Mauricius (Anton Adasinsky), the town’s wheedling moneylender, who dismisses Faust’s preoccupations with an airy “The soul? One can do without it. Why complicate things?” (Perhaps echoing Walter Huston’s Mr Scratch in The Devil and Daniel Webster [1941]: “Soul? Soul is nothing… Can you see it? Smell it? Touch it? No…”) Mauricius, whose imperious wife (Euro art-film legend Hanna Schygulla) waltzes around in an array of operatically excessive costumes – is never named as ‘Mephistopheles’ here, but he obviously fills the role of Goethe/Marlowe’s Satanic tempter. His bargain involves granting Faust carnal access to virginal damsel Gretchen (Isolda Dychauk), a character often named ‘Marguerite’ in previous iterations. Arguably Sokurov’s trump card, saturnine Dychauk is such a luminous screen presence that one might imagine a mature, intelligent scientist like Faust trading his eternal soul for a night in her bed.

Excerpt from Neil Young's Film Lounge located HERE

Several things about Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov’s German-language spin on the Faust legend – the fourth and final part of his tetralogy of films about power and evil after ‘Moloch’, ‘The Sun’ and ‘Taurus’ – make it a difficult, even alienating experience. It’s talky. It’s often rambling. It has a rigorous, even unrelenting, grey, green and brown palette and, narratively, it’s tough to penetrate.

But, still, this ‘Faust’, which won the Golden Lion at Venice in 2011 and is set in an indistinct time and place – presumably somewhere in Germany roundabout the nineteenth century – has a sly humour and down-to-earth mystery that make it cumulatively compelling and allow the themes of the story to burrow deep within the viewer. Moreover, the film’s look gradually takes on a hypnotic power as Sokurov’s constantly travelling camera offers images blurred at the edges, sometimes tilted and with the occasional arresting close-up, such as when he halts on the beautiful, brightly lit face of Faust’s love, Margarete (Isolda Dychauk), and the source of his pact with the devil.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Artificial Eye have given the heavy style of Sokurov's Faust a robust Blu-ray transfer. Surely the dual-layered transfer with max'ed bitrate picks up all the intended appearance modulations from a 1.37:1 aspect ratio with rounded corners to the occasional distortions we saw so prominently in the director's Mother and Son. The visuals are frequently masked with a brownish or dimly lit hue - both soft and flat. The 1080P supports the film's idiosyncrasies as adeptly as possible which includes some horizontal lines - mostly imperceptible in standard viewing. It's pristinely clean and highly interesting to watch. We presume this Blu-ray probably looks exactly like the uniqueness of an original theatrical presentation - no matter how unconventional that is.

















Audio :

Audio is in original German via the option of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1824 kbps or a linear PCM stereo track. There are a couple of notable separations that add further atmosphere to the odd visual appearance. Faust's, occasionally creepy, audio matches the video with its own share of scatteredness - again we presume authenticity. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

This Artificial Eye Blu-ray release offers only a theatrical trailer.



Ohh my - I'm going to have to watch this again as the appearance kind of hypnotized me in my first viewing. Maybe a little like Guy Maddin's work? It's sort of like walking into that slanted house that is an optical illusion in Ripley's Believe it or Not museum.  The Artificial Eye Blu-ray a/v appears to do its job and Sokurov continues to push the boundaries in his visual treatment - here with his loosely based take Goethe's Faust. Fascinating - to say the least. 

Gary Tooze

August 10th, 2012


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

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Gary W. Tooze






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