As I’m sure many other people do, I find the final scene of Mephisto to be the most interesting and thought provoking.
From a cinematography/camerawork/editing perspective, there are several important things to note. First, we have an establishing shot of the arena; though the arena shown may or may not be the one in which this scene actually occurs, placing this image before the scenes that occur inside the arena takes it from an ambiguous spatial relationship to a cohesive sequence that has meaning. Next, we have a long shot of the men walking inside the arena with no apparent condensing of time, giving us a sense of the space and distance on screen. Before they settle into their final places, we get a shot from below the men as they climb the stairs and a shot from above their heads, which in sequence serve to emphasize that they’re higher up than they were before (and that the other men are higher up than Hendrik will be in just a few moments, which also symbolizes their power over him). Next, we see a sort of POV shot taking in the area that the arena encloses, again adding to our sense of space and distance. As the General speaks to Hendrik the camera takes a closer shot from below them and when he starts to shout Hendrik’s name, the camera comes from behind them, taking in the whole scene and cluing us into the fact that the action is about to move onto the field of the arena. As Hendrik goes onto the field, four or five beams of light are all focused on him; interestingly they make several shadows in his shape, echoing the idea that he is not quite a person, but more of a character or characters, always acting and never being his one true self.
As far as sound goes, most of the first half of the scene consists of unified footsteps, indicating how militant and structured the Nazis are. As the footsteps stop, we hear the ominous sound of wind blowing, another clue that something is amiss. Though we cannot understand exactly what the man is saying, just by hearing his tone of voice and observing facial expressions we grasp that Hendrik is realizing that he has been deceived in some way.
Possibly the most interesting thing of all is that when Hendrik is under the spotlights, he tries and fails to run outside the lines of light. It appears that Hendrik’s power/freedom, the fame and the limelight, really has become his prison.