Sensationally modern, G. W. Pabst’s lurid, controversial melodrama follows the downward spiral of the fiery, brash, yet innocent showgirl Lulu (Louise Brooks), whose sexual vivacity has a devastating effect on everyone she comes in contact with.
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If pressed to pick a film which truly represents many of cinema's key strengths as a medium, this would be it. Brooks is remarkable, but Pabst's directing is the real star. The air, as if by magic, pushing up Lulu's veil, the way human bodies block the visibility of a gunshot, smoke rising before us like a warm spirit. Fragmented bodies, abstracted hands, Pabst predicting Bresson's maneuvers. The ending is perfect.
Louise Brooks is perfect as a slutty Jewish artiste with a pure heart. I love how Pabst establishes her Jewishness in the first scene, and then never makes an issue of it again in the film. One of the finest films by one of the greatest stars of the silent era.
COUNTESS GESCHWITZ. Let me mention her first, because not many do, though her character is frankly way more interesting than that of Lulu. Of course this is a great, well-made film, and story complaints belong mostly with Wedekind, but still, it ranks as one of the most regressive silents I've seen in a long time. Funnily, Jessner's more symbolic and minimal approach to the same story made Erdgeist easier to stomach.