Pandora's Box (1929) : Silent Film Review

So let's talk about a little silent German film titled, "Pandora's Box" from 1929, starring one Louise Brooks. She portrayed a very beautiful woman in the lead role of "Lulu", but it may have been her short haircut that had me so enthralled. I have a weakness for short hair see? Its reached the Megaman Boss level, where you hit me with my weakness three times and I'm absolutely vanquished. I noticed that her outfit had a flesh colored fabric that covered the center of her chest, but was cut down to the navel, so the cleavage that should have been there was not visible (completely). Now whether this was censorship, or a fashion choice, is unclear to me, especially in black and white colour. This film had good acting, and there was an emphasis on close-up shot of actors, in order to showcase subtle changes in their facial features. This was a welcome change, as the over acting found in previous silent films was beginning to become annoying. Flailing your arms like a madman and fixing your hat/tie a dozen times, just doesn't compete.

Trying to end an affair, a ritzy man struggles futilely to break his passionate yearnings for Lulu. This film showed the "power" that women had over men, so long as they kicked and screamed enough it seemed that every man in the film was absolutely powerless to her every whim, due to her immense beauty of course. This notion of women in power, albeit a rather linear one, stands in direct contrast to the previous screening, "The Sheik"(blogged about this one way back, if you fancy a read, check April of 2010), wherein women were powerless to the strength of men. The title, "Pandora's Box", must be alluding to both the Greek fable, as well as female physiology. Once Pandora's Box is opened, and all its mischief released, it can never be closed. Like herpes.

This movie used a soft lens camera to make the women appear more dramatically, by affecting the lighting in which they are in, making things look glossy. Act 3 took place behind the scenes of a live variety show. There were numerous jokes going on in the background during this sequence and the heightened sense of humor was very welcome. The actor playing the theater director must have been a comedian, as his mix of physical slapstick, and subtle expressive timing, were positively superb.

There was a portrayal of dark haired women being promiscuous, seductive, and coercive. Having dark hair myself, I can attest that this is not true, sometimes. There was definitely a lesbian theme with the other female character named, "Gershwitz", and she was very clearly romantically interested in Lulu from the moment she was introduced.

The band playing at Lulu's party in Act.4 was named, "Sid Kay's Fellows". The male lead character gets shot because he simply cannot reconcile his jealous nature, with his bad habit of walking in on a situation and completely misinterpret what he sees with full conviction. After his death, there is a court that tries her for murder in Act.5, and the head judge looks similar to Gary Oldman.

The man's son takes over as the male lead, as well as romantic interest for Lulu. She escapes captivity, and begins a new life on the lam with her new beau. From here she is sold into an Egyptian harem, ensuing murder plots via beautiful hypnotism, all culminating in a new profession for Lulu. Prostitution. And just like any story, whenever the main character resorts to prostitution at the end of the final act, guess who her first client is? That's right. Jack The Ripper. He even throws away his knife, sparing her, but after passing up another knife in her kitchen, he murders her. For laughs, I like to think that he cut her up and sold her in his Pie n' Mash shop for a few euros.

1 comment:

LuEGee said...

This I have to see...perhaps I'll learn a thing or two.