The irrestible female has often been portrayed in movies, and one of the earliest remains one of the greatest: Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box. This wonderful silent movie combines many contrasting elements to create a truly memorable film.

Lulu (Loiuse Brooks) is a showgirl, and she has an irrestible combination of smouldering sensuality and childlike enthusiasm. Almost everyone she meets falls in love with her, including publisher Dr. Ludwig Schon (Fritz Kortner), his son Alwa (Francis Lederer), and even the Countess Anna (Alice Roberts). Unfortunately, misfortune and despair follow wherever Lulu goes, making her an innocent femme fatale. Her own entourage is made up of Schigolch (Carl Goetz), an old and shifty man who pretends to be her sponsor; and Rodrigo (Kraft-Raschig), a strong man who dreams of being in a variety show with Lulu.

Brooks' acting is perfect, but it's one of the many impressive features in this film. Some silent films rely on too much exaggerated gestures to show emotion, but director Georg Pabst manages to bring out the subtle tragedy of his actors. The lighting and action are well done, whether it's the hustle and chaos of a theatrical performance, the wealth of a wedding celebration, or the dinginess of life on the skids.

Pandora's Box is, from start to finish, an amazing movie. Brooks is a perfect leading lady (and the hairstlye she wore in this movie became known as a "Lulu" and is still popular today), and whether Lulu was an unknowing innocent or calculating user of those around her. This movie goes from high society to the slums, from generosity to selfishness, from crime to redemption -- with Lulu at the center of it all. Pandora's Box is a true classic.

Overall grade: A+
Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: