Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Faust against a little bell





Towards the end of the play, Faust is still employed by the bankrupt emperor. Inflationary policies are tearing up public peace, and a war breaks out.

Faust becomes a General and wins the war thanks to Mephistopheles' sorcery.




Now Faust is almighty and he plans to build a giant system of dams to push back the sea. He is successful, except for one spot, where he is held back by a chapl and a wood hut with two old people who do not want to move.


And great Faust suddenly shows signs of  impatience. He complains that he cannot stand the pealing of the chapel's little bell.

The silver bell of that chapel keeps reminding him that the whole world would be his ....if only  he also owned that one spot, and he and Mephistopheles concord that the pealing of that ominous bell must be stopped at once.


Mephistopheles allows the place to be torched by his rude subordinates.

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FAUST admits he feels ashamed that such a little bell could upset him. --
Wie schaff ich es mir vom Gemüte! --
Das Glöcklein läutet, und ich wüte.
How can I get rid of it! The little bell rings, and I rage.

MEPHISTOPHELES:

It's natural that such a basic inconvenience would spoil your complete life. Who would dispute that!
Natürlich daß ein Hauptverdruß
Das Leben dir vergällen muß.
Wer leugnet's!

Auch hier geschieht, was längst geschah,
Denn Naboths Weinberg war schon da.

It is Mephistopheles quoting from the Bible saying that Naboth was killed for his vineyard, and whatever happened then, will happen again.


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The photos are at http://en.prolinefilm.ru/gallery/?sect_id=1afb3426, taken from a film interpretation of "Faust" directed by Alexander Sokurov.

Goethe himself had used a source from the Middle Ages.

Basically it's the story of a science teacher who tries to get out of the racket by making a deal with the devil.
Goethe's Mephistopheles is a lucid well-read old cynic and more astute in his reflections than Faust himself.
Of Sokurov's film I have only seen the stills.
Below is Sokurov's "Gretchen", the girl seduced by Faust with Mephistopheles' decisive help.

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From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faust

Origins of the Faust story

"The Faust of early books—as well as the ballads, dramas, movies, and puppet-plays which grew out of them—is irrevocably damned because he prefers human to divine knowledge; "he laid the Holy Scriptures behind the door and under the bench, refused to be called doctor of Theology, but preferred to be styled doctor of Medicine".

Plays and comic puppet theatre loosely based on this legend were popular throughout Germany in the 16th century, often reducing Faust and Mephistopheles to figures of everyday fun."
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