Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Starring: Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Franz Lederer, Carl Goetz, Alive Roberts. Germany / Austria. 1h 49m
This iconic film is deeply based on Frank Wedekind’s play “Lulu”, and despite it not being popular at the time of release, it now remains; nearly 90 years after its release; one of Europe’s silent cinema’s crowning achievements. A catastrophic portrait of sexual obsession, that the American actress Louise Brooks provided an outstanding performance as the prostitute Lulu, a femme fatale who unleashes uncontrollable desires in the people around her.
The movie starts with scandal, Lulu, (Brooks) is the mistress of a rich middle ages newspaper publisher, Dr. Ludwig Schon (Kortner) but when an older man arrives, her first patron Schigolch (Goetz) with Schon on his heels, she hides Schigolch on the balcony but the men discover eachother and her rich sugar daddy reveals the news that he’s going to marry Charlotte von Zarnikow (D’ora) Lulu tries to change his mind but after finding the disreputable looking Schigolch he leaves, meanwhile Schigolch introduces Lulu to Rodrigo Quast and he invites her to join his trapeze act.
The next day Lulu visits her friend Alwa, who happens to be Schon’s son.. he’s quite upset to see her but comes up with an idea to be rid of her by offering her a job in an upcoming musical production. However he then makes the mistakes of bringing Charlotte to the venue, Lulu refused to go perform in front of her rival he takes her into the storeroom to try and persuade her but she seduces him, charlotte discovers them embracing and the defeated Schon resigns himself to marrying Lulu to avoid scandal. But this is when the film only begins to get juicy, without going through it step by step, second half of the film Lulu is forced to commit suicide, she accidently kills a man, goes on trial is rescued and flees under her lesbian lovers passport, she’s sold into slavery in the middle east and eventually with a brutal twist of fate there is a dark reference to a infamous London serial killer in the final throws of the movie.
This strikingly bleak movie has it all..
Pandora’s box is richly atmospheric and curbs on the sinister in a lot of it’s scenes, despite the era of film being one of curiosity it grows darker and more perverse, obviously the title is reference to the Greek fable of Pandora who opens a box which releases all of the evils into the world, the evil though seems to come from Lulus flirtatious actions,, possibly a quip to women being a source of evil? It highlights the worst aspects of human relationships. Lulu runs circles around everyone, thinking that she’s having an amazing time but icuring love, admiration along with deep hatred and in turn betrayal, and somehow seems utterly oblivious to the fact. The world is just a big ole oyster for her.
R: Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), Variety (1925), The Last Laugh (1924)