Faust plays on the theme of someone on a quest for knowledge going too far. There are a number of different works that play on a similar theme. A number of the works we will cover in this podcast, notably Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde, Gaston Leroux’ The Phantom of the Opera, all cover similar messages. The song “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen was also, in part, inspired by this work. But for a recommendation outside of our podcast, “Manfred” by Lord Byron is an interesting Romantic take on Faust. It is a play meant by Byron to be viewed as a poem of sorts and the titular character Manfred goes through some dealing with Spirits similar to Faust’s journey except that the ending has a decidedly Romantic Literature spin which I won’t spoil here.
For a fun modern film take on this concept, the movie Bedazzled (2000) directed by Harold Ramis, starring Brendan Fasier and Elizabeth Hurley is a funny and over the top, if not an honest translation of this theme. It is definitely a 2000’s take on the Faust myth with Fasier having 7 wishes to help him try and catch the attention of the love of his life. It’s a lighthearted film that brings a modern and comedic perspective to this pervasive myth.
A Movie Adaptation for Your Consideration: Alexander Sukarov’s Faust (2011), a German language gothic work of some kind of art, if perhaps not the fullest of entertainment. I’ll be honest, folks, I had never seen an adaptation of Goethe’s particular tale, only the Marlowe iteration. Of the two main contenders – the other being the 1926 silent horror film that follows the plot somewhat more carefully and has much more attractive actors – I chose the 2011 film despite its departure from some of the story and altogether abandonment of the metaphysical aspects of especially the second part of Faust. I selected it based on the merit of the production design, a grim and richly gaunt and mossy-colored 19th century Germany that seems to fit the Frankenstein-y take on the good Dr. F quite nicely, and the combination of the ceaseless camera motion paired with the score dancing along in time. It is quite a sight to behold, even if the resemblance between the primary source moral and the meat of the film’s message are just…not the same. Head thee to the silent film for better accuracy!