Wednesday, 16 July 2008

celebrating murnau's faust

F.W. Murnau's Faust

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and Melbourne International Arts Festival presents F.W Murnau's Faust (1926) with a new original musical score by Phillip Johnston to be performed live.

ACMI and the Melbourne International Arts Festival are bringing to the screen what is arguably still the most important and visually startling cinematic imagining of F.W Murnau's Faust.

Faust was Murnau's highly successful big-budget final German film before joining Fox Studios in America. The film draws inspiration from older traditional folklore of the Faustian myth, as well as the celebrated work of Goethe.

Using fantastic special effects and a painterly tableaux to tell a story that is larger than life, yet tragic in its human dimensions, its themes of fate, human vanity, individual free will and self-sacrifice are as powerful today as ever.

"ACMI is always striving to give audiences unique and enlightening artistic experiences, so it is with great pleasure that we collaborate with the Melbourne Festival and the Goethe-Institut to present Murnau's seminal and beautiful work as part of our First Look program, accompanied by a powerful contemporary score," said ACMI Head of Film Programs Richard Sowada.

This 1926 German Expressionist silent film classic, starring Gösta Ekman as the title character, Emil Jannings and Camilla Horn, was Murnau's last German film before emigrating to America and is considered by many to be his masterpiece.

One of the most influential filmmakers of the German silent era, Murnau is best known for his dynamic black and white expressionistic visions (including his 1922 Nosferatu - an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula); his dynamic cinematic innovations, such as the subjective and fluid camera of The Last Laugh (1925); and his landmark first Hollywood film, Sunrise (1927).

Murnau died tragically in a car accident in California aged 42, days before the premiere of his last film Tabu (1931).

Murnau has since been portrayed on film by John Malkovich in the fictional account of the making of Nosferatu, Shadow of the Vampire (2000).

Phillip Johnston's original score for Faust was commissioned by the Film Society of Lincoln Centre and premiered at the New York Film Festival in 2002.

The score will be performed live to accompany the screening of the film and features songs with lyrics by Australian playwright Hilary Bell as well an instrumental underscore, performed by a new Australian ensemble featuring Elizabeth Jones (accordion), John Napier (cello) and Lauren Easton (voice), along with the composer on saxophone, piano and ukulele.

This exciting and emotionally intelligent score is epic in its own manner with the musicians and librettist feeding off and into the moods and dramatic moments of the film; in doing so taking Murnau's work to even greater artistic heights.

"Johnston's work is characterised by its wilful perversity - its utter unwillingness to stay in one place, its defiance of genre, its universal embrace of the offbeat, its celebration of the quirky, dramatic and surprising gesture." Seth Rogovoy

A showcase to transfix both the film and music lover. An equally classic and contemporary event.

Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
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