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Mephistophela [1963]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0154
Run Time
0h 0m 0s
Date Produced
"Mephistophela" is a ballet based on the Faust story, choreographed by Ruth Page in 1963, with music arranged and orchestrated by Isaac Van Grove from the Faust scores of Berlioz, Boito, and Gounod; scenery and costumes were designed by André Delfau. The ballet premiered in Park Ridge, Illinois as part of the 1963 tour of Ruth Page's Chicago Opera Ballet. This film represents a rehearsal of the ballet from this tour, conducted primarily in practice clothes. While the rehearsal is shot from the mezzanine of an auditorium and thus hard to see very well, the film canister note lists the cast as follows: Patricia Klekovic as Mephistophela; Kenneth Johnson as Faust; Ellen Everett as Marguerite; Dolores Lipinski as the Duchess; Larry Long as the Duke; and Charles Schick as the Goat.
The film begins with a shot of a stage, on which a large spherical sculpture of sticks is the only scenery. At center, a cloaked figure (presumably Faust) dances with 2 sticks of his own. He attempts to call Satan forth, who appears in the form of Mephistophela. She brings him two young maidens to rest at his feet while dancing a solo--offering him eternal youth in exchange for his soul. The two maidens then join her in circling him alluringly. He rejects them, she dances another solo, and he drops to the ground in weakness. The two youths help him up and Mephistophela hands Faust an object, perhaps a contract, which he once again rejects. She thus conjures up instead the Duchess, whose solo enraptures him. She then conjures up a Duke and the two go together to the large sculpture and take it offstage with them. The camera then cuts to a repeat of the Duchess sequence, which continues into the following sequence, wherein Faust finally signs the contract and is transformed into a handsome youth. He then performs a solo while Mephistophela dances around him. Once he exits, she brings forth dancers of the court couple by couple, which assemble themselves in a semi-circle. Duke and Duchess then enter, and a group of four young women begin a group dance. The film then cuts to what appears to be a break in the rehearsal, as the dancers seem to break character; afterwards, the quartet dance begins again. The court members all rearrange themselves a few times and then a soloist enters (perhaps Mephistophela), impressing the court with her quick, precise dance. She is followed by Faust, whose solo is similarly impressive to the group. Afterwards, Mephistophela appears to initiate a dance with the Duke, encouraging other couples to join them. Soon, however, the camera cuts to a different point in the rehearsal, apparently the pas de deux between Faust and the Duchess. In the midst of the rehearsal, the dancers stop and rest for a few frames before the camera cuts back to their rehearsing. As they complete their pas de deux, Mephistophela bursts in with a gaggle of demon-dancers. A goat-man appears to be brought forward on a large throne, topped with a similar sculpture to that from the beginning. He dances a solo while the demons surround him on the ground. Mephistophela then enters, and all dance a mazurka-like dance, which transitions into a pas de deux by the goat man and a woman as Mephistophela and her attendant look on; she then leads her demons in their celebratory dance. Eventually, the guests all leave and a curtain goes down in front of the throne; Faust is left lying on the ground while Mephistophela circles him. She then brings a woman (perhaps Marguerite) forth; her solo rouses him and he watches her rather in awe. Eventually, the two begin a pas de deux. Mephistophela reenters and appears to cast some sort of spell, for Marguerite suddenly scorns Faust, fighting him off. As a result, he accidentally throws her to the ground, seems to beg Mephistophela for an explanation, and helps Marguerite up. Before the sequence can continue, the camera cuts to a different segment, with Mephistophela alone onstage. After a very brief solo, she exits and six couples enter and dance together. They are joined by Faust and Marguerite, wearing a veil; the two dance a brief pas de deux before standing to the side and watching the others. They soon join the group, before embracing in the center while the rest kneel around them. Mephistophela enters, disguised as a priest, to marry them. Suddenly, the Duchess runs in with a dagger, intending to kill Marguerite in a jealous rage. In attempting to get the dagger from her, Faust is guided by Mephistophela and made to stab Marguerite with it. The wedding onlookers all exit and the Duchess and Mephistophela exit triumphantly while Faust mourns over Marguerite's body. Another woman enters and dances a solo in response to Faust's mourning dance, during which Marguerite's body is carried away. She then seems to remind him of his contract, which upsets him at first, but then the two dance an acrobatic pas de deux. Finally, Faust's old, cloaked self appears to haunt Faust and then collapses as the woman pulls him away. The camera then seems to cut to an earlier point in the ballet, when Faust is collapsed on the ground before meeting Marguerite. The film ends there.
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Klekovic, Patricia (is performer)
Johnson, Kenneth (is performer)
Everett, Ellen (is performer)
Lipinski, Dolores (is performer)
Long, Larry (is performer)
Schick, Charles (is performer)