‘Faust’ finishes Russian ‘trilogy’

Sokurov to begin shooting final film

Russian director and Cannes veteran Alexander Sokurov will begin shooting “Faust,” the fourth and final film in his “trilogy” on the corrupting effects of power, in the Czech Republic in August.

Sokurov’s canon includes studies of Adolf Hitler (“Moloch,” 1999), Valdimir Lenin (“Taurus,” 2000) and Japanese emperor Hirohito (“The Sun,” 2004).

Inspired by the German legend of a man who makes a pact with the devil in return for knowledge, and drawing on works by Goethe and Thomas Mann, Sokurov’s “Faust” aims to draw together the themes of his earlier three films into a comprehensive exploration of the darker side of human beings, said producer Andrey Sigle.

“The film has no particular relevance to contemporary events in the world — it is set in the early 19th century — but reflects Sokurov’s enduring attempts to understand man and his inner forces,” said Sigle.

Perhaps appropriately given its subject, the E8 million ($10.9 million) film — produced by St. Petersburg-based Proline Film — found private equity financing through Russia’s Mass Media Support Fund, which is backed by local commercial banks, after the personal intervention of prime minister Vladimir Putin.

Last October at the opening of the $250 million Russian World Studios in St. Petersburg, Putin spoke of the importance of film as a cultural export.

“We met Putin when he was in Dresden, Germany, last December and he personally helped us find support through the private fund,” Sigle said. “The film is a big Russian cultural project and for Putin that is very important. He saw it as a film that can introduce the Russian mentality into European culture; to promote integration between Russian and European culture. Russia is not only a military power or an oil and gas power, it is has a huge cultural heritage and film can help European people to better see the face of Russia.”

Russian cultural values will be evident within the film — even though the director and producers’ passion for verisimilitude means the film will be shot in castles in the Czech Republic using German actors.

There will also be a few days on location in Iceland, possibly some scenes filmed at the Vatican and studio filming at one of two studios in Prague, Sigle added.

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