Acts 2 & 3 are a trial, but after that it has something of the wrenching yet vaguely farcical feel of 'Requiem For a Dream' in that it becomes a melodramatic descent into death and despair... but then the tawdriness of it all is elevated by a suddenly beautiful last 10 minutes that is moving in unexpected, confusing ways. I think one's enjoyment of the film is pretty contingent upon how much one <3 Louise Brooks.
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.
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.
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..