“What do they want from me now? After all, I am just an actor.” So how did an up-and-coming thespian with a mixed-race mistress and left-wing sympathies make it to the top of Nazi Germany’s theatrical world? Klaus Maria Brandauer overwhelmingly triumphs in the role of Mephistopheles, the demonic tempter in Goethe’s Faust.
Mephisto was adapted from Klaus Mann’s 1936 novel (Klaus is the son of Nobel laureate Thomas Mann). The novel was so transparently based on the life of Klaus’s brother-in-law, Gustaf Gründgens (the bowler-hatted criminal boss in Lang’s M and one of Germany’s greatest stage actors) that it couldn’t be published in Germany until 1971. Mephisto would win the Academy Award in 1981 for Best Foreign Language Film and in fact, a few of you may have seen it that year when we screened it at Bear’s Place. This marks Hungary’s first-ever Foreign Film Oscar winner, keyed by Brandauer’s riveting performance.
146 minutes / 4K Restoration / in German and Hungarian with subtitles /
“THIS FILM IS A WORK OF ART. The film transmits its messages so forcefully that no one can remain unaffected.” – Ingmar Bergman
“One of the GREATEST MOVIE PERFORMANCES I’VE EVER SEEN! A performance of electrifying power.”
– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“MAGNIFICENT! It’s more than a mercy, it’s a coup!”
– David Thompson
“Few have dared what Brandauer accomplishes: showing us a good actor responding to the same neurotic drive for the center of the stage, the immortalizing role. His is a great performance, nothing less.”
– Richard Schickel, Time Magazine
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