Mephisto

Szabó's "Mephisto" is simply one of the most important films in the history of cinema. Szabó takes on the primary material of films, mankind, from two perspectives, that which sees man as an artist and that which sees him as an individual. Mephisto tells the contradictions experienced by an artist who tries to lead his people in a time of political instability by using his art, by taking responsibility as an artist. Inspired by Goethe's story, Szabó retells the dilemmas of Faust, here ressurected as the actor Hendrik Höfgen (Klaus Maria Brandauer), who is constantly manipulated by Mephisto (or the devil). Hendrik Höfgen has such an ambitious, narcistic, and selfish personality that he sees himself as the future of German theatre. He dances insanely to show his unusual personality. Two women have a special place in Höfgen's colorful life: Barbara, whom he married with much love, and Juliette, whom he only sees for wild sex. These two women seem to be 'tools' that connect him to life, that enable him to socialize albeit in a minimal way. Bearing in mind that the relation between art and politics or artist and state is still unsolved, "Mephisto" is still a crucial story, especially in nowadays when the responsibility of the artist and his role in leading the people is heavily debated. Hendrik must face a dilemma experienced by most in Weimar Germany. While all his artist friends and his wife Barbara decide to flee the country when Nazis take power, he chooses to stay, maintaining that nothing is worth sacrificing his art. He refuses to leave Germany because he sees acting as the only freedom he knows -he believes that as long as he acts, he will be happy no matter what. Klaus Maria Brandauer's magnificent performance is yet another reason to see this masterpiece. Deniz Yavuz
Germany Hungary
'
1981

Director
István Szabó

Script
István Szabó
Peter Dobai

Cinematography
Lajos Koltai

Editing
Zsuszsa Csakany

Production
Mafilm Studio

Cast
Christine Harbort
Ildiko Bansagi
Karin Boyd
Klaus Maria Brandauer
Krystyna Janda
Rolf Hoppe

Music
Zdenkö Tamassy

Awards
Best Foreign Actor David Di Donatello Awards; Silver Ribbon Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists; ALFS Award
Best Foreign Language Film National Board of Review USA
Best Foreign Language Film Oscar; Best Screenplay
FIPRESCI Prize Cannes; Best Foreign Film
Foreign Language Film of the Year London Critics Circle; NBR Award

Festivals
8th Festival on Wheels
ARTISTS AND POWER