Edition no. 280
In a role intended at one point for Marlene Dietrich (The Blue Angel), 22 year-old Louise Brooks (Diary of a Lost Girl), with her fragile beauty and iconic dark bob hairstyle, gives a performance decades ahead of its time and immortalised her as an icon. Largely condemned and censored upon its initial release for its daring treatment of sexuality and female desire, Brooks’ understated yet erotically charged performance, endures as among the most modern of the silent era.
Adapted from a pair of plays by Frank Wedekind, Pandora’s Box tells the story of prostitute Lulu, a free spirit whose open sexuality breeds chaos in its wake. When Lulu’s latest lover, the newspaper editor Dr. Ludwig Schon (Fritz Kortner, The Hands of Orlac), announces plans to leave her to marry a more respectable woman, Lulu is devastated. Cast in a musical revue written by Schon’s son, Alwa (Francis Lederer, The Return of Dracula), Lulu seduces Schon once more — only to have their tryst exposed, and Schon’s plans for a more socially acceptable marriage shattered. Left with no choice but to marry Lulu, Schon meets with tragedy on their wedding night. Lulu stands trial for the incident, facing years of imprisonment. With the aid of her former pimp (Carl Goetz, Tom Sawyer) an infatuated lesbian countess (Alice Roberts, The Merry Widower), and Alwa, she flees toward a fate of increasing squalor and peril, finally crossing paths one Christmas Eve with Jack the Ripper.
Reviled and bowdlerised at its debut, Pandora’s Box has since been recognised as one of the masterpieces of early German cinema. A sordid melodrama made with great style, it affirms G.W. Pabst as a daring and important director and Louise Brooks as one of cinema’s most exquisite and distinctive performers. The Masters of Cinema series is proud to present Pabst’s masterpiece
- Limited Edition 60-Page Book featuring new writing on the film by critics Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Imogen Sara Smith, and Richard Combs; alongside archival stills and imagery
- Orchestral Score by Peer Raben
- New audio commentary by critic Pamela Hutchinson
- New visual appreciation by author and critic Kat Ellinger
- New video essay by David Cairns
- New video essay by Fiona Watson