I see by Wikipedia that Faustwas played recently by Bruno Ganz, who I remember seeing as the soulful, soulful angel in "Wings of Desire" just before I fell asleep in it. Based on this translation, anyway, I think someone more skittish is appropriate. Hugh Laurie, maybe, but then I think he'd be good in anything -- and not serious "House" Hugh Laurie, but Bertie Wooster-goes-to-graduate-school Hugh Laurie. David Cross, maybe?
Because Faust is at the end of his extravagantly educated rope here:Followed by a complete mood switch:
And dost thou ask why heaves thy heart,
With tighten’d pressure in thy breast?
Why the dull ache will not depart,
By which thy life-pulse is oppress’d?
Instead of nature’s living sphere,
Created for mankind of old,
Brute skeletons surround thee here,
And dead men’s bones in smoke and mould.
Up! Forth into the distant land!As I may have mentioned, I read Faust when I took German in college, and it always bugged me that he was redeemed just for striving. I was bad at German, so I know that may not be the actual ending, but my poor opinion of Faust is confirmed in this excerpt because he consults Nostradamus. At times he also sounds like a guy on a street corner telling you why Communism has never really been put into practice:
The few who somewhat of these things have known,It's the system, man! And then he quickly moves on to contemplating suicide. How interesting of Goethe to being with a scene telling us that all intellectuals are crazy.
Who their full hearts unguardedly reveal’d,
Nor thoughts, nor feelings, from the mob conceal’d,
Have died on crosses, or in flames been thrown.