Movie 10min

Faust (1909)

Not rated.

Director Edwin S. Porter
Country United States
Language English
(Alternative) Faust, Grand Opera Series
(Alternative) Grand Opera Series - Faust
Based on Opera Based on Play Black and White Death of Child Drama Fantasy Gothic Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Lost Film Pact with the Devil Prison Romance Short Temptation The Devil

The legend of the aged philosopher and his combat with the devil comes from remote antiquity. It remained for the master poet, Goethe, to mould it into one of the greatest dramas of philosophy and life in the history of literature. No play or opera has stood the test of time as has the love story of Faust and Marguerite, across which falls the fatal black shadow of Mephistopheles, mocking his victims in the hour of their greatest joy. It required the master mind of Charles Gounod to catch the beauty of the German poet's inspiration and set it to music. The first performance of Gounod's opera of "Faust" took place at the Theatre Lyrique at Paris. March 19, 1859.

Of all the grand operas that the great singers of the world have presented to the public, "Faust" may easily be placed at the head of the list in popularity and universal favor. Therefore, the Edison Company has chosen it as the first of the grand opera series which is to be given to the public during the course of the winter season. The story is almost too well known to repeat in detail; however, for the benefit of those who have never had the opportunity of seeing the play or the opera, or who have never read Goethe's wondrously beautiful poem, wo shall give a brief outline.

Faust an aged philosopher and magician who has grown weary of life and has sought in vain for the secret of eternal youth, decides, after a night's long vigil, to call forth- from the realms of darkness the evil one to aid him. Mephistopheles appears and offers him his services in return for Faust's soul. The aged philosopher refuses to accept until the devil shows him a vision of Marguerite in all her maiden simplicity and beauty. Faust agrees to accept the compact providing Mephistopheles will give him youth, wealth and love. This the devil agrees to do. The bond is signed — the devil gives him a powerful drink which transforms the aged man into a dashing young cavalier, and forth they go into the world to seek the pleasures of life, but which, under the evil spell, turn to wormwood and gall.

Faust meets Marguerite coming from church and offers to escort her home, but with maidenly modesty she declines. He is fired with love and enamored of her beauty, and the devil offers a plan to win her love. Stealing into her garden, a jewel casket is left filled with "pearls, rubies and diamonds rare." Marguerite finds the casket and cannot forbear to adorn herself with the jewels. It is while she is thus occupied that a neighbor. Dame Martha, discovers her. Shortly afterwards Faust and Mephistopheles appear, and here follows the winning of Marguerite's love in the rose garden.

Night draws its mystic veil around them, while the mocking demon gloats over his victims. We next see Marguerite betrayed and deserted. She falls pleading at the shrine of the Virgin for forgiveness, but is even denied this solace by the presence of the devil Valentine, Marguerite's brother, returns from the war and learns of his sister's betrayal. He seeks out Faust and engages him in a duel. By Mephistophles' aid Valentine is stabbed. Dying, he curses Marguerite and ends his life as a soldier and a man.

Marguerite's reason has been shaken by her grief and sorrow. She kills her child and is cast into prison, where Mephistopheles brings Faust in order that he may fly with Marguerite, but she, poor thing, does not comprehend. She understands only her great love for him, and, her mind possessed by that one thought, she plucks once again the daisy of love, counting each imaginary petal is it falls. Faust in his agony begs for her forgiveness. Her dying reply, "Forgiveness! Faust, I love thee," tells the whole story, as from his arms she sinks away into eternity. Mephistopheles pronounces her damned, but the angels of heaven appear and proclaim her saved; while Faust sinks into eternal damnation, writhing under the scorn and mockery of the devil, who now claims him for his own.

No greater story of human love and sorrow has ever been presented in motion pictures, and the Edison players have done this silent dramatization of the grand opera full justice.

Source: The Film Index - Dec 25, 1909

This was the first of Edison Companies' "Grand Opera" films, and it was considered to be a success. they were encouraged to do more movies of this kind, and they consider "Faust" to be one of the greatest films of the year.

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William Sorelle - Mephistopheles
Edwin S. Porter - Director
J. Searle Dawley - Writer (Scenario)
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe - Author (Play)