Cognition & Coitus, Religion & Myth at the Movies (Alexander Sokurov’s Faust)


A.O. Scott raved about it, so I went to go see Faust, the last film in Alexander Sokurov’s “Men of Power” tetralogy. It looks like it was shot in sepia tone, on a boxed up screen to convey the image and aura of an old photograph. With furtive gestures, the film slogs grimly in search of insight into the human soul and the meaning of life through the entrails of the human condition and then lights up in long cut flashes of bright light and pools of water beauty signifying sex. A painterly movie, the dreamscape is pictured after Bosch and Breugel, German expressionism and, then, at the end, German romanticism. The urban set is filthy, but the forests, lakes and mountains are sublime like something out of Wagner. Wild and wooly, thick with religion and blasphemy, doom and redemption, it’s that kind of movie, mythopoetic. Maybe I found the movie by its end just a little too heroic, and I’m not sure how it might matter that Sokurov is now a darling of Vladimir Putin, who secured funding for the film. I don’t think I’m spoiling the end for too many of you if I say that its last words are “weiter, weiter.” A film for Germanophiles, it’s a mostly grim lovely thing that looks like a photograph, an old picture from a long time ago that you might pull from a desk drawer.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
This entry was posted in uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply