“Mephisto” is based on the novel “Mefisto” (1936), penned by Klaus Mann (1906–1949), the eldest son of Nobel laureate Thomas Mann.

It’s the story of talented actor and film director Hendrik Höfgen’s (Klaus Maria Brandauer) career and moral fall. At a time when many artists are leaving Germany, the main character goes the way of compromise and sees Nazism as something that is meant to be, even though he is aware that it is an aberration. His dream is to play Mephistopheles in the theatre and he sells his soul to get what he wants. In the end he realizes he is in fact Faust, while the real Mephisto is the Nazi leader in the film, who manipulates him and to whom he sells his soul.

The prototype for Höfgen is the famous 1930s actor Gustaf Gründgens, the brother in law of Klaus Mann. The Nazi leader depicted in the film bears a similarity to Hermann Goering.

Germany, Hungary, Austria 1981