Beauty and the Devil

Synopsis: Professor Henri Faust, retiring after 50 years as an alchemist in a circa-1700 university, despairs at still knowing nothing of the true secrets of nature...whereupon his old acquaintance Mephistopheles, servant of Lucifer, appears and grants him youth and a new life. But with youth, Faust's interest is diverted from science to women. And Mephistopheles, who has taken on the guise of the elderly Faust that was, sets many snares for his young friend's slippery soul...
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Director(s): René Clair
  Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 4 wins.
95 min


Based on the legend of FAUST,

who sold his soul to the devil.

Gentlemen, our joy is mixed with

sorrow as we celebrate...

...the fiftieth year

at this university...

...of a man...

...who has devoted his whole life

to increasing human knowledge

Our dear Dean,

Professor Henri Faust.

Henri Faust, your daily life

among us...

...has been a model for all

our students and for us too.

You have despised riches,

refused honours...

...and denied yourself

the simplest joys... order to devote yourself

to the service of the intellect.

The time has now come...

...for you to face

these great problems...

...alone in peaceful retirement.

May God...

...bless your work and guide

your steps...

...along that path of science

where you precede us.

Faust, why are you running away?

Don't you want to see me?

Why slam that door?

You know full well that,

despite doors and walls...

...I can steal into your home

and worm my way into your soul.

What's the use of studying

those books...

...that reveal none of the secrets

you wish to discover?

Think back.

In fifty years of solitude,

what have you learnt?

Nothing, I know nothing.

Don't exaggerate.

You're a great scholar.

But you won't discover nature's

secret forces in those books.

- Soon you will die.

- Having achieved nothing.

Whereas if you accepted

my help and called me... could succeed

in your great experiment.

And if I called?

I'd come at once.

I didn't call you.

It's not time yet.

Yes, it is, sir.

Dinner is served.

You're not eating, Professor?

I'm not hungry.

You're only hungry for knowledge.

Be quiet.

I didn't say anything, Professor.

Faust, you're wasting

the last hours of your life.

Your knowledge only serves

to measure your ignorance.

All you've learnt is that,

without me, you'll know nothing.

I could show you everything

but you're scared.

You're scared, Faust.

I'm not scared of you or

your ridiculous disguises.

I'm not scared of your horns,

your cloven hooves...

...your claws or bat's wings.

Poor devil.

You think you scare me?

I'm your equal and

I can be your master.

- The time has come?

- Yes, I order you to show yourself.

That's right, order me -

on your knees.

No, don't show yourself yet.

Go away! I didn't call you.

Too late.

I obeyed and I'm here.

- Where?

- Turn around and you'll see me.

What do you look like?

I've neither cloven feet nor horns.

Come out of that corner.

- Open your eyes.

- I see nothing.

I'm not in your book.

Are you scared of yourself?

The devil looks and sounds like you.

I did my best to please.

You might at least welcome me.

Lucifer, go away!

Not Lucifer. Just one of

his humble lieutenants.

My name is Mephistopheles.

That's not very nice

when I've come so far.

Maybe you'd prefer me disguised

as one of your students?

Do you remember how respectfully

I bowed to you?

You took me by surprise but you

don't scare me. I order you to go.

You're supposed to obey me.

My only wish is to be

your obedient servant.

But before I disappear...

...just one word.

Look at your old decaying body.

It's falling apart. It smells

unpleasantly of death.

Do you know how long

you have left?

- Don't tell me.

- The thought of death scares you?

No. It's the thought of

my useless life.

I can give you another life.

In exchange for what?

Hell doesn't make presents.

Sign this pact with your blood...


...and I'll do anything you say.

Did you feel that?

It's gout. I always get it

before a storm.

How distressing. My poor man,

one foot in the grave already.

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René Clair

René Clair (11 November 1898 – 15 March 1981) born René-Lucien Chomette, was a French filmmaker and writer. He first established his reputation in the 1920s as a director of silent films in which comedy was often mingled with fantasy. He went on to make some of the most innovative early sound films in France, before going abroad to work in the UK and USA for more than a decade. Returning to France after World War II, he continued to make films that were characterised by their elegance and wit, often presenting a nostalgic view of French life in earlier years. He was elected to the Académie française in 1960. Clair's best known films include The Italian Straw Hat (1928), Under the Roofs of Paris (1930), Le Million (1931), À nous la liberté (1931), I Married a Witch (1942), and And Then There Were None (1945). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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