Lulu is a beautiful young woman who can seemingly work her charms on all of the men around her. She is currently being kept by the rich editor Dr. Ludwig Schön. She is just a plaything however and he is engaged to be married to Charlotte, a woman of his own class. He arranges for Lulu to appear in his son Alwa's musical revue and he too falls for all of her charms. When Dr. Schön and his fiancée go to the theater, Lulu ensures that he is put in a compromising situation and the elder Schön feels he now must marry her, knowing full well it will ruin his reputation. On his wedding day, Dr. Schön reaches his breaking point. His actions cost him his life however and Lulu is convicted of manslaughter. She escapes with the help of her old cronies but together they begin a downward spiral. Written by
Louise Brooks may have never studied acting, but every actor should study her. How much they can learn is questionable though. This dancer/chorus girl turned film star was one of those rare creatures who probably couldn't have told you what she was doing, even if she thought long and hard about it (and Brooks was an intelligent, articulate woman.)
Like a great natural athlete, she simply could do it, and do it better than almost anyone else. Pandora's Box is the greatest existing record of her technique and remarkable talents.
On the surface, a run of the mill story of a femme fatale who destroys the men around her, this G. W. Pabst film is complicated, dark, moody, and seemingly packed with contradictory messages. Well acted and well directed by Pabst, it nonetheless would have been forgotten decades ago, had it not been for its star.
Brooks was one of the most beautiful, most photogenic woman to ever appear on the screen. From some angles, her face is so remarkable it almost doesn't seem real.
Her personality exceeds her beauty and it was the perfect personality to capture the childish, petulant, self centered, yet sweetly innocent kid who is the embodiment of every pretty girl who wants what she wants, regardless of the consequences.
Pabst' film, based on two German stage plays, is also a fascinating look at male sexual obsession, at men unable to control their lust who want to destroy the object of that lust before she destroys them.
Yet all the messages aside, it is simply Brooks totally natural performance that in the end will be remembered here.
Ironically, Brooks was really no more than a starlet in her American silent film days and it took her three European films to elevate her name above the title. And those films were hardly seen in the U.S. in their day. Yet today, women whose names were household words in America in the silent era, like Coleen Moore and even Clara Bow, are all but forgotten, while the Brooks legend grows stronger each year.
While Brooks has benefitted from a well written biography and the adoration of much of the press, a close examination of Pandora's Box proves she was much more than just hype.
This movie is one of the great treasures of the cinema, and Louise Brooks is one of the most talented and most fascinating actresses to ever appear in movies, on either side of the Atlantic.
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