Fausto 5.0

A pornographic theater troupe adapts the Faust legend.



Of the numerous cinematic renderings of the Faust legend, Fausto 5.0 is undoubtedly the first produced by a pornographic theater troupe.


That's not to say that Fausto 5.0 is itself pornographic. Set in a near-future Spain plagued by morbidity and political unrest, the film has received more attention for its gore than its eroticism. Neither lives up to the hype, but then hype is what traveling thespians should be best at anyway.


Fausto 5.0 and its attendant publicity are brought to you by the Barcelona-based La Fura dels Baus, notorious for their production XXX, a stage adaptation of Marquis de Sade's Philosophy in the Bedroom. A visit to La Fura's website confirms that the philosophy is emphasized as much as the bedroom. Their "Binary Manifesto" asks, "Will digital theater perpetuate Phallocracy? Will Vaginocracy eventually win? Or will both join in perfect harmony 0-1?" Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion.


The site also features links to sideline projects such as the enigmatic "Millennium Monkey" and the "Gangbang Musical Project," the latter promising music that "lifts the spirit and also provokes erections."


After that sort of guarantee, Fausto 5.0 may be kind of a letdown. In La Fura's version, Dr. Fausto is a stolid physician who uses experimental treatments on terminal patients. A few survive, hundreds don't, and this familiarity with death has the doctor contemplating suicide.


Journeying to a medical conference, Fausto literally bumps into former patient Santos Vella, who claims Fausto removed his stomach eight years prior. The mysterious Vella shadows the doctor, hinting that he can grant whatever Fausto wishes, and as Fausto 5.0 wraps up in just over 90 minutes, the tempter soon wins.


Being La Fura's first film, Fausto 5.0's staging is far more interesting than its photography. Packs of dogs, child gangs, street thugs, and protesters float by peripherally. A hotel Fausto visits is completely covered by white drapes, behind which Fausto will later dally with a woman with horizontally striped hair.


As Vella, Eduard Fernandez's is a fun performance, and fans of Julio Medem's hyper-sensual films (Lovers of the Arctic Circle, Sex and Lucia) will recognize Najwa Nimri, who plays Fausto's assistant, Julia.


Compared to the films of David Lynch and David Cronenberg, Fausto 5.0 is neither surreal nor gory (those craving weird existential gore should see E. Elias Merhige's Begotten; think F.W. Murnau's Faust meets Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre). Yet Fausto 5.0 is sexy and strange and smart enough to recommend all on its own.


--Joshua Avram

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