Czech Republic / France / UK, 1994 (MIFF 1995)
Director: Jan Svankmajer
A Faust for our uncertain times from one of the world's most original filmmakers and brilliant animators. Abandon objective logic when you enter the wonderful world of Jan Svankmajer and expect a tale conjured from dreams and nightmares.
Using marionettes pixelation and stop-motion techniques along with lashings of Goethe, Marlowe and Gounod, Svankmajer creates a surreal labyrinth through which his live-action characters careen, confronted at every turn by spectres from the unconscious.
Selling your soul to the devil you never get what you bargain for, and when an everyman lured off the streets of Prague (actor Petr Cepek) exchanges his for 24 years of pleasure-filled living, he soon finds himself becoming Faust in a deal that goes horribly awry. Entering into a Mephistophelean mindfield of dark magic and hysterical demons, Faust even encounters a fantastically grotesque claymation foetus, whose head grows to his likeness progressing through stages of aging and decay as the body remains shrunken and immature.
A caustic, acerbic retelling of a key cultural myth this potent mix of ghoulish delights and delightful ghouls is another Svankmajer triumph. Like his astonishing short films Dimensions of Dialogue, Down to the Cellar and his first feature Alice, Faust shifts from black humour to playful trickery while creating a profound and disturbing sense of lurking terror.