Today’s Horror on the Lens is a silent German film from 1926. Based on the legend of the alchemist who sold his soul to the Devil, Faust was dismissed by European critics when it was initially released but it has since been recognized as one of the greatest cinematic examples of German Expressionism.
It was after directing this film that Murnau traveled to Hollywood and directed his masterpice, Sunrise: A Story of Two Humans. (Murnau was also responsible, many years earlier, for directing Nosferatu.) The role of Fasut was played by Swedish actor Gosta Ekman, who tragically developed an addiction to cocaine while making the film and who would die as a result in 1938. Playing the role of Mephisto is German actor Emil Jannings, who would later go to win the very first Academy Award for Best Actor. Unfortunately, with the advent of sound, Jannings — who had no interest in learning English — returned to Germany and, after making some classic films with Marlene Dietrich, spent the rest of his career appearing in Nazi propaganda films. Whether or not Jannings was a committed Nazi or just an opportunist remains a point of contention but it’s still undoubtedly not the career path that one would hope for one of the very first Oscar winners.
Here is Faust: