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  Last Faust, The Telling The Future
Year: 2019
Director: Philipp Humm, Dominik Wieschermann
Stars: Steven Berkoff, Martin Hancock, Glynn Dilley, Yvonne Mai, Edwin De La Renta, Scarlett Mellish Wilson, George Keeler, Paul Orchard, Valerie Pain, Marlon Roberts, Mace Richards, Corinne Swallow, Marina Stoimenova, Isabella Bliss
Genre: Science Fiction, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 2059, and the world is under threat from a manmade entity. When the neural network was created, it was supposed to bring humanity together, yet this phenomenon attained a consciousness that leads it to regard people as its enemies, and it plots to bring down what by all rights should have been its masters. With that in mind, the network's chief inventor Doctor Goodfellow (Steven Berkoff) has retreated to an isolated country house with an android of his own devising, in the hope he will be spared the approaching apocalypse, and to pass the time he explains how we got to this point. It involves the story of colleague Doctor Faust (Martin Hancock) who was determined to better what Gods there were by creating life by himself, but this would be an utter blasphemy...

The Last Faust was based on the classic text of Goethe, a tale of making a pact with otherworldly forces for your own gain that has resonated down through history in its mixture of Christian philosophy and Ancient Greek legends. It has been reinterpreted in many ways, some more glancingly than others, but the screenwriter and director here, Philipp Humm, was one who put his stamp on it in the style of video artists, a strain of modern art that adopted the latest technology to craft its imagery and put across its themes. If there's any form of art that dates faster than the video style, it's difficult to envisage, but Humm did attain a sleek, theatrical appearance to his endeavours that only occasionally lapsed into the ridiculous - another danger when dabbling in this technique.

Not many films can get away with a boob in the sky representing the Moon, and you won't be sure if The Last Faust did either, but in the main this was a lot of densely-packed recitals of passages from the original book accompanied by visuals that were supposed to conjure up a concrete story from which the viewer could draw the conclusions Humm directed them to. It was accompanied by other art projects to complement this more visible production. If anything, it resembled the Peter Greenaway project of 1990 for Channel 4 in Britain entitled A TV Dante, where it was an alternative classical text given a very alternative reading. Indeed, this did come across as very nineties in its point of origin as well as the points it was trying to make, since its tries at relevance to the twenty-first century were somewhat lost in the approach, rendering a feeling of something outdated before it began.

Berkoff was the big star here, a devotee of experimental theatre and therefore in his element, but it was too obvious he was reading his flowery prose from cue cards and had you wondering how aware he was of what he was saying. Everyone else were a mixture of actors and dancers - Swiss electropop duo Yello provided a little music for those latter to dance to, but don't expect the adventurousness of modern ballet, this was functional at best. Really, the trouble was this would have an uphill battle to engage with an audience unless they were already invested in the material and its presentation. You can imagine it playing, well, not even an arthouse cinema, more an art gallery, but it was nobody's idea of a fun night out at the pictures, and that was the genuine issue; there had obviously been a lot of thought gone into it, yet it did not translate its conclusions well enough. Sad to say, whatever striking imagery it managed, it was difficult to see anyone without knowledge of Goethe finding this anything but screamingly boring - one for the intellectual elites, then. That Humm was an ex-Amazon and Vodafone exec may add another layer of meaning to its technophobia. Music by Florian Siegmund.

[The Last Faust will be available on Digital Download from 2nd December.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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