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  • Actor Klaus Maria Brandauer applies makeup, already wearing white face paint and black eyeliner, with red lips.
  • Actor Klaus Maria Brandauer wears a tuxedo; a Nazi flag is in the background.
  • A bald man in a white army officer's uniform and a blonde woman dressed formally stand together, with a Nazi flag in the background.
  • Actor Klaus Maria Brandauer lays his head in the lap of a woman with white hair who is dressed all in white.
  • Actor Klaus Maria Brandauer in costume, with white face paint, red lips, a black outfit, and red cape.

István Szabó’s

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Academy Award®, Best Foreign Language Film 1981

Starring Klaus Maria Brandauer

Director István Szabó
Cast Klaus Maria Brandauer, Krystyna Janda, Ildikó Bánsági
Screenplay Peter Diabo, István Szabó 
Cinematography Lajos Koltai
1981 | France | Approx. 144 min. |  German and Hungarian with English subtitles

(1981) “What do they want from me now? After all, I am just an actor.” So how did an up-and-coming thespian with a mixed-race mistress and left-wing sympathies make it to the top of Nazi Germany’s theatrical world? Klaus Maria Brandauer’s Hendrik Hoefgen overwhelmingly triumphs in the role of Mephistopheles, the demonic tempter in Goethe’s Faust. Adapted from Klaus (son of Nobel laureate Thomas) Mann’s 1936 novel, so transparently about his brother-in-law Gustaf Gründgens (the bowler-hatted criminal boss in Lang’s M and one of Germany’s greatest stage actors) that it couldn’t be published in Germany until 1971. Hungary’s first-ever Foreign Film Oscar winner, keyed by Brandauer’s riveting performance.



“There has been precious little incisive appraisal of the precise seductive allure of fascism, and certainly none to match that offered by Szabó’s remarkable film.”
– Paul Taylor, Time Out (London)

“Magnificent and distinguished. It’s more than a mercy, it’s a coup.”
– David Thomson

“A performance of electrifying power.”
– Roger Ebert

“Istvan Szabo's Mephisto is brilliant metaphorical filmmaking containing one of the more memorable film-acting performances in recent years.”
– Bruce McCabe, The Boston Globe

“Few have dared what Brandauer accomplishes: showing us a good actor responding to the same neurotic drive for the center of the stage, the immortalizing role. His is a great performance, nothing less.”
– Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine

“Marked a new humanism in German-language cinema after the German new wave of the 1970s.”
– Andrew Pulver, The Guardian

“The film does that first necessary thing for films of the Reich––it suggests the foul breath of these handsome people. It’s a world in which you can’t breathe for the stink.”
– David Thomson

“Posseses an inner momentum and the film as a whole, with its dynamic leading performance, has an energy reminiscent of the films of Andrzej Wajda.”
– David Shipman

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