Pandora’s Box (1929) AKA Die Buchse der Pandora

 “He’s the only one who wants nothing from me.”

pandora2Pandora’s Box–in glorious black and white–was filmed in 1928 and is set in Berlin. As the title suggests, the film explores the unleashed excesses of the human vices. It’s the story of a vaudeville performer, Lulu. She is in the middle of a passionate affair with newspaper tycoon, Schoen. He wants to terminate the relationship due to the small matter of his engagement to someone else. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to know that once Lulu has her charming talons in a man, he’s not going anywhere. Schoen often looks narcotized when he gazes at Lulu–he just can’t help himself. He is just one in a series of men that Lulu ruins–one way or another. Lulu is surrounded by men (and one woman) who are obsessed with her. In one scene, men literally pass each other on the stairs.

Louise Brooks stars as Lulu. Pandora’s Box was the first time I’d actually seen her in a film, and she was simply amazing to watch. This actress doesn’t need words–she uses her face instead. She conveys every thought running through Lulu’s mind with just a slight change of mood in her eyes, a self-satisfied little smile, or a miniscule shift in body language.

Several of the scenes involved large numbers of people (I call them mob scenes)–and the best of these scenes is one that takes place behind the set of a Revue. Everything was so well choreographed. The set is at once so busy–complete madness and mayhem–yet at the same time, the scene is very tightly controlled with expert precision. It’s just an amazing sequence.

The music accompanying the action is appropriate and timely. Many characters have their own signature tune–Lulu’s theme, for example, conveys a certain languid, seductive, discordant eroticism. In spite of the film’s age, the quality of the film was good, and the story seems surprisingly fresh. From director G.W. Pabst

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