Analysing Faust’s unconditional love

Yesterday I watched Faust the 1926 brilliant classic by W. Murnau.

Faust is the story of a wager between the devil and Archangel Michael that in the end Man is incorruptible. If the devil is able to corrupt the soul of a genius called Faust, the world will be his. So, in the town where Faust lives, the devil starts a huge plague epidemic. Faust, with all his knowledge and faith is unable to find a cure and desperately he turns to the devil for support. He signs a contract to sell his soul with his own blood. However, after having all the powers in the world, people do not accept his healing powers, because they come from the devil and not from God. Faust is disillusioned and wants to die, but the devil seduces him to give him his youth again. Full of youthful energy Faust goes on a bounty hunt to taste all pleasures in life. Eventually, this does not fulfil him and he longs for home (Heimat). At the Easter feast he meets Gretchen on her way to the church for a mass and he falls madly in love with her. He asks the Devil to make Gretchen love him as well. After magically courting her, Faust ends up in her room where they make love. But the devil warns both her mother and brother. Her mother finds the two lovers in an embrace, has a faint and dies. Her brother duels with Faust and the devil stabs him to death. Faust and the devil flee and leave Gretchen alone to her misery. She is sentenced to the pillory and a great shame befalls her. Nine months later, on a winter Christmas day, she delivers the child of Faust in an abandoned open stable. She is poor and nobody will help her. Finally, in a fantasy she sees a warm cradle for the baby to sleep in. In reality however, she buries the child in the snow. When she is found, she is prosecuted for the murder of het baby and sentenced to burn on the stake. Gretchen shrieks out a cry, so powerful that Faust hears it many lands far away. He orders the devil to take him to Gretchen and to prevent her death. The devil brings him, but is unwilling to prevent her death. When Faust sees his youthful stupidity, he wishes to be old and wise again. Gladly the devil returns Faust to his old self. Faust runs up to Gretchen to ask forgiveness, but she does not recognize this old man. When Gretchen is set on the stake and set on fire, Faust runs after her and joins her on the stake. He is an old man, but Gretchen recognizes in the eyes of Faust his younger self. Whilst burning they embrace and kiss. Their sins are absolved by love and together they ascend to heaven. In the end scene, the devil goes to Michael with Faust’s signed contract and he demands the world. Michael rejects the contract, however. There is one thing which absolves all contracts in the world and this is: Love.

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