One of the masters of early German cinema, G. W. Pabst had an innate talent for discovering actresses (including Greta Garbo). And perhaps none of his female stars shone brighter than Kansas native and onetime Ziegfeld girl Louise Brooks, whose legendary persona was defined by Pabst’s lurid, controversial melodrama Pandora’s Box. Sensationally modern, the film follows the downward spiral of the fiery, brash, yet innocent showgirl Lulu, whose sexual vivacity has a devastating effect on everyone she comes in contact with. Daring and stylish, Pandora’s Box is one of silent cinema’s great masterworks and a testament to Brooks’s dazzling individuality. —The Criterion Collection
Born in Bohemia to Viennese parents, director G. W. Pabst made only one American film in his career, yet became the darling of U.S. critics and movie historians for a handful of brilliant silent works. Pabst studied at Vienna’s Academy of Decorate Arts, then embarked on a theatrical career in 1906. He worked as a stage director in Europe and briefly in New York with a German-language company until World War I. Back in Vienna in the early 1920s, Pabst was one of the vanguards of the experimental theater movement. This led to an interest in the less-confining vistas of film. Establishing himself as a movie director in 1923, Pabst made his mark by turning out productions of pessimistic realism, intermixed with unstressed impressionism. He directed Garbo in A Joyless Street (1925), then helmed the pioneering Freudian drama Secrets of a Soul (1926). Pabst helped create the “Louise Brooks mystique” by casting the expatriate American actress in two of his most elaborate (and most heavily censored… read more
Towards the end of the Silent era and with Talkies in the ascendancy, a down-on-her-luck Brooks bobbed her way across the Atlantic to Germany for one last hurrah under Pabst's direction. It proved to be a sound decision as this is the role that led to her immortality, a performance charged with alluring sensuality combined with a childlike vulnerability. Onscreen decadence has seldom appeared so thoroughly enticing..
The character of Schigolch reminds me of Mephistopheles, as he is first depicted in Marnou's "Faust", as a little, smiling priest. I think the Pandora myth is related to Eve tasting the forbidden fruit. But in this version it is Eve and not the Devil who is to be blamed for the theological problem of evil. And it is Eve rather then the Devil who pays the price as well.
Pandora’s Box is the kind of movie that it would just be a waste of time to say its great because of this or that, going through an interminable list and checking off each of its component parts… read review
A great movie if a little long sometimes. The story of a woman who in my opinion was sometimes naive even innocent but ultimately a femme fatale. The story deals with scandalous issues of the time… read review
For someone in my age group, Pandora’s Box might seem drawn out and a bit repetitive. We do need to remind ourselves that this is a
german 1929 film. But other than that, the acting in this… read review