2009-12-26

Murnau and Rossellini

I watched two films this weekend.  Both powerful - both very different from one another.  The first was "Faust" by F.W. Murnau - the 2nd "Flowers of St. Francis" by Roberto Rossellini.

"Faust" by Murnau is a silent film; however, it's worth your time for it's stunning visuals, & excellent acting(particularly, I thought, by Emil Jannings).   Some things to admire:

  • In visuals look for:

    • The makeup and juxtaposing of the Angel and the
      Demon at start and end of the film. These are
      marvelous. Also, the plague demon against the sun.

    • The capture of the aged Faust in Mephistopheles
      mirror

    • The writing on the contract appearing as if burned
      in from thin air.

  • Acting:

    • Emil Jannings evil mugging and laughter and
      his characters disgust with all things holy are
      wonderfully played

    • Gösta Ekman & Camilla Horn as Faust
      and Gretchen were much more subdued-- but
      still very good.   Faust/Ekman's despair in his
      inability to work good as the aged Faust is
      very moving.
Faust is available via Google video:
http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=7688523464781787807&hl=en&fs=true

"Flowers of St. Francis" by Rossellini is not a silent film, but, is a very _quiet_ film. Simplicity, kindness, hope, and a bucholic atmosphere were as much needed today as in post-World War II Italy.  Most actors are actual monks -- their performances are really fun to watch.  Very honest, sincere great fit for the film. The additional items on the DVD, i.e., interview with Isabella Rossellini and film critic Father Virgilio Fantuzzi are also worth the time.

My favorite person in FOSF: Brother Ginepro.  In one of the vignettes, he makes a imprudent choice  in his duties  hopes of getting out all the earlier to preach --he's told by Francis he may go and preach -- but, must begin every sermon with: "I talk and talk -- but accomplish little...".

In another he says: "I was visited by the devil last night ... when he knocks on the door I call out from inside ... the inn is occupied and there's no more room."

"Little Flowers..." is available from Criterion, likely, through your public library.

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