A scene in Szabo’s Mephisto that truly caught my eye was when Heinz and the general meet for the first time. Comfortably sitting in his dressing room, when he hears the news that the general wants to meet him, Heinz instantly feels skittish and fearful. This translates smoothly as he makes his way towards the balcony of the theatre with the film’s use of prolonged close up shots of both the General and Heinz. For Heinz, the close up shots serve to show his fear in the situation of meeting a high ranked Nazi leader. For the General, however, it shows him as almost analyzing him. It is important to remember that while this is all happening, Heinz is still in his full Mephisto costume and makeup.
The scene is quite tense until the General finally says congrats to Heinz. In what can be seen as a quick transition, the tension has passed when the scene fast-forwards a bit later to Mephisto (Heinz), the General and his wife laughing in conversation. The audience is left to fill in the wholes of what happened between the time of tension and later laughter; the director seems to use this through out the whole film in order to condense time.
The most striking part of the whole scene, however, was when the camera panned out and the viewer sees the audience gazing up to the sight of a Nazi leader meeting with what can be interpreted as the devil himself. It is almost as if Heinz’s acting had not stopped and he was performing yet again. The viewer can see this as an almost foreshadowing to the influence that Heinz can have on the people of Germany as a political pawn of the Nazis. It also begs the question of who is more evil: the devil or the Nazis? In any case, it is a truly powerful shot to see the audience of the theatre mesmerized by this sight as if they are almost worshiping both men. Ultimately, Mephisto proves to be a telling story of what man is willing to do in order to gain his greatest desires.