My favourite scene begins at 1:12:35.
It is the second time that Hendrik plays Mephisto. On this occassion, the chancellor commands one of his subjects to retrieve Hendrik in his dressing room after his show so that the chancellor and Hendrik may speak in the chancellor’s booth. Their dialogue comprises the scene.
The initial silence from Hendrik shows his respect and fear for the man who has called him into his booth. The close-ups in which neither actor is speaking but looking into the other’s eyes shows mutual respect. The chancellor admires Hendrik’s performance and acting ability, and you can see so in his face.
At 1:13:59 you can see how Hendrik and the chancellor are framed within the archway. The curtains behind them are drawn as if they are putting on a show. And the audience below is watching them. The chancellor rises from his seat to join Hendrik “on stage.” This is no coincidence–this was absolutely intentional. The director wanted to make the point that Hendrik’s conversation with the chancellor was acting. Hendrik even meets the chancellor while still in costume, another clue that he is still acting. He mentions before he goes to meet the chancellor that everything is going “like clockwork” as if he has the chancellor eating out of his hands. And it certainly seems as though that is the case for the first hour and a half of the film.
Perhaps we can draw from this framing that the chancellor is also acting. Perhaps the chancellor is using Hendrik as a mere pawn in his plot, but for now he is not letting Hendrik in on that. For now he will shake his hand and put on a big smile and pretend to be friendly.
The audience below the booth watch as Hendrik and the chancellor talk. They stop everything they are doing to watch them speak. I think this symbolizes how the citizens of Germany at this time are innocent bystanders in their own lives; they do not play active roles in the conversation (their lives), but instead they let the powerful men above them dictate their lives.