Senses of Cinema has an article which concludes,
Through the use of light and movement, and some brilliant special effects, Murnau attempted to create a visual equivalent of Goethe's literary masterpiece. Murnau's film may not be as great an icon as Goethe's classic, but it is nonetheless a cinematic masterpiece worthy of its filmmaker.Films de France says,
Where the film is most impressive is in its avant-garde cinematography - which by the standards of 1925, when the film was made, was way ahead of its time. Murnau’s technical competence, imagination and willingness to take a gamble and try something different all play a part in defining the film’s unique visual feel. The way in which the film uses image to convey the emotions of its protagonists and the sheer awesome power of the Devil is something which only a few other filmmakers could ever come near to matching. Time and again, the spectator is stunned by Murnau’s artistic genius - and his daring.Roger Ebert considers it a "great movie" and says that
"Faust," with its supernatural vistas of heaven and hell, is particularly distinctive in the way it uses the whole canvas. ... Murnau treated the screen as if it offered a larger space than his contemporaries imagined;5/20/2008 update:
Having just seen this film yesterday it came to mind when I saw the post at Finding the Balance: Woodstock for Preachers - Day 1 (I think I followed a Methoblog link, but I can't trace it back now...) where the blogger compares his preaching conference to Woodstock (I wasn't at Woodstock, so I don't know) and comments:
So, here I am at the Festival of Homiletics, which I've determined is "Woodstock for Preachers (absent the free drugs and love - I hope! Uggh - kill me now)."The angel in the last scene of the movie (at about 1:44:30 here) protects the couple in the name of love, even though their love was inspired by carnal desire and corrupted by the Devil and condemned by society and brought them both to their deaths, and calls love
The Word that wings joyfully throughout the universe, The Word that appeases every pain and grief, The Word that expiates all human guilt, the Eternal Word...Maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic.
And I'm in favor of free drugs, which would surely help with our budget. Going from 80% to 50% prescription drug coverage in a one-income household was a real kicker.
10/11/2009 update: House of Mirth and Movies has a review.