The Tangible Image: Aleksandr Sokurov's Faust

Stefano Oddi


Aleksandr Sokurov's Faust is the closing chapter of a film tetralogy aimed to explore the devastating effects of power, consisting of Moloch, Taurus and The Sun, focused respectively on Hitler, Lenin and Hirohito, the three major XX-century representations of totalitarianism, which Sokurov chose to de-monumentalize through “the slow emergence of [their] body” (Mario Pezzella). This process of embodiment is central to Faust as well, applied not only to its main characters – whom Sokurov wants to depict as pure bodies, deprived of any spiritual concern, dominated by merely physiological instincts – but to the film image itself. As a matter of fact, Sokurov attempts to give “a dynamic and real quality to his painterly images” (Thorsten Botz-Bornstein) by intervening on the film frame with constant pictorial manipulations, in order to add the bodily, pigmental quality of the painting to the genetic immateriality of the film image. The article proposes then a focus on the concept of embodiment in Sokurov's Faust, showing how it shapes both the director's strategy of adaptation of Goethe's masterpiece and his pictorial work on the film image.


Faust; Johann Wolfgang Goethe; Aleksandr Sokurov; Screen Adaptation; Modern Myth

DOI: 10.6092/issn.2280-9481/8654


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