Greta Garbo and Victor Sjostrom

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Scott Lord Silent Film: Gosta Ekman in Faust (F.W. Murnau, 1926)

The immanent departure of director F.W. MUrnau for America had already been announced by the periodical Motion Picture News during late 1925 while Murnau was readying the film "Faust". It was to star Gosta Ekman, "a young Swedish actor who has the title role. He has been a star on the legitimate stage and is now making his first appearance in pictures."

Janet Bergstrom, University of California , writes that with the film "Faust", among others, Murnau had "unchained the camera" with moving shots that seemed unique...sweeping the audience's emotions with them". Of these moving shots, Bergstrom brings to our attention tracking shots that were photographed above their subject by having rails mounted on the ceiling of the studio.

The use of a mobile camera by Murnau is clearly referred to by Robert Herlth, a designer of sets on the film "Faust", who wrote on the lighting of the film in a chapter entitled "With Murnau on the Set" included in the volume Murnau, published by Lotte H. Eisner. The set designer quotes Murnau as having said, " 'Now how are we going to get the effect of the design? This is too light. Everything must be made much more shadowy.' And so all four of us set about to trying to cut the light...We used them (screens) to define space and create shadows on the wall and in the air. For Murnau, the lighting became part of the actual directing of the film.'" silent film Silent Horror Film Silent Horror

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