Mephisto (1981 film)

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File:Mephisto DVD.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by István Szabó
Written by Péter Dobai
Klaus Mann (novel)
István Szabó
Starring Klaus Maria Brandauer
Krystyna Janda
Ildikó Bánsági
Release dates
  • 29 April 1981 (1981-04-29) (Germany)
  • 8 October 1981 (1981-10-08) (Hungary)
Running time
144 minutes
Country Hungary
Language English

Mephisto is the title of a 1981 film adaptation of Klaus Mann's novel Mephisto, directed by István Szabó, and starring Klaus Maria Brandauer as Hendrik Höfgen. The film was a co-production between companies in West Germany, Hungary and Austria.

Story, Morale & Backgrounder

The film adapts the story of Mephistopheles and Doctor Faustus by having the main character Hendrik Höfgen abandon his conscience and continue to act and ingratiate himself with the Nazi Party and so keep and improve his job and social position.

The plot's bitter irony is that the protagonist's fondest dream is to play Mephisto - but in order to achieve this dream he in effect sells his soul, and realises too late that in reality he is Faustus; it is the Nazi leader having a major role in the film (modeled on Hermann Göring) who is the true Mephisto.

Both the film and Mann's 1936 novel mirror the career of Mann's brother-in-law, Gustaf Gründgens, who is considered by many to have supported the Nazi Party and abandoned his previous political views for personal gain rather than conscience. (Playing Mephisto was indeed the peak of Gründgens' career, though in reality this was long after the fall of the Nazis.) However, Mann's book is satirical, making Höfgen more a lampoon than a character in his own right, while the film offers a more realistic exploration of a flawed but recognisably human character.[citation needed]



Mephisto was awarded the 1981 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film; the film was submitted to the Academy by Hungary.[1] To date it is the only Hungarian film to win the Foreign Language Oscar.

At the 1981 Cannes Film Festival the film won the Best Screenplay Award and the FIPRESCI Prize.[2]

See also


  1. "The 54th Academy Awards (1982) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-06-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Festival de Cannes: Mephisto". Retrieved 2009-05-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links