Pandora's Box - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pandora's Box Reviews

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July 10, 2016
The plot is not worth describing, being so much nonsense, and don't even mention the characterisation. This film survives solely due to the timeless luminescence of Louise Brooks, who is vivacious, vulnerable and thoroughly seductive. Saw as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival 2016 with live piano accompaniment which highlighted the melodrama.
December 2, 2015
Come witness the harrowing hijinks of the good-hearted, promiscuous showgirl (played by the stunning Louise Brooks) and her life spiraling downward to a lurid Christmas demise in this silent German classic.
½ December 3, 2014
Lulu is not a traditional femme fatale, but an ill-fated woman of fatal attraction.
November 14, 2014
A well dressed woman, even though her purse is painfully empty, can conquer the world... Step outside. It's the only way to feel the sun--Before there was GILDA there was Lulu and Louise Brooks... Fatale beautÚ!!
November 10, 2014
Weimar Germany era racy silent film classic starring Louis Brooks who popularized the hairstyle of the era. This longish film starts as a story about a naive dancer and eventually includes a murder trial, Jack the Ripper vignette and Christmas season finale.
September 25, 2014
Pandora's Box is brilliant on a technical level because the direction is excellent, the pace is brisk, the cinematography is superb and it is an all-around beautifully made film plus Louise Brooks shine all the way through and her character is very good and even similar to Scarlett O'Hara in some respect, but the story is not as brilliant owing to an overly melodramatic tone and the film is too eventful and filled with not particularly well developed characters, except for the protagonist. It is a very good film, but also the one which could have been much better.
July 31, 2014
Pandora's Box (1929) - 8

German silent classic directed by Georg Whilhelm Plabst. The libertine and na´ve spirit of seductive Lulu is a potentially fatal trap to any man or woman who crosses paths with the young dancer. Seemingly unaware of the consequences of her actions, Lulu drifts at the mercy of events in a melodramatic adventure marked by strong sexuality and deviltry. Lulu's treacherous spell will be her doom; she will fall into misery and despair, and will meet a tragic fate at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Lulu personifies the Greek myth of Pandora on which the movie is thematically based. Pandora's Box is notable for lifting Louise Brooks into stardom, and for, presumably, being the first movie in the history of cinema to deal with the lesbian theme. This is a must-see for fans of Louise Brooks, fans of silent cinema and to whomever wants to see how homosexuality was treated on the screen in a period where it was still a taboo subject. The ludicrous pathos lends a funnier quality to the movie than it is supposed to be, but this doesn't hinder the cinematic experience. Wonderful cinematography and camera work. Supremely fun and naughty movie. Recommended.
July 27, 2014
year s/b 1928 not 29
January 6, 2014
Louise Brooks, one of the first femme fatales, beautiful, sensual, and absolutely magnificent. She doesn't play Lulu, she is Lulu, in all of her innocent sexuality that drives men (and women) crazy for her. Her performance is so natural, and yet so subtle; her face can show thousand emotions at once. From seductress to a vulnerable young girl, Brooks is brilliant in her film role.
Overall, an excellent film, complex, erotic, and unforgettable. Essential viewing.
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2013
Great film -- uncharacteristically for a silent film, I was glued to it for the whole duration. Brooks' performance (and her unmatched beauty) brought out emotions as I by turns sympathized with but also pitied Lulu, naive but unintentionally destructive by her sheer magnetism. Well directed, well lit, and well shot. And although no one can match Brooks' natural screen presence, the rest of the cast does an adequate job acting out their roles. The music accompaniment for my viewing was also quite superb -- the brief moments of Chopin and Christmas tinkle pulled my heart strings, almost as much as Brooks' tears. The film runs a bit long but all in all, a good film and ahead of its time in many respects. 4-4.5/5.
September 4, 2013
Louise Brooks is truly unforgettable in this portrait of an unconventional, liberated woman of the future living in stodgy, oppressive 1920's society, without really knowing the consequences of her actions due to her free-spirited ways and her kind heart. Even the arc of the plot seems to be a condemnation of her and that just makes the film all the more powerful, though perhaps a bit outdated in our eyes. It's also a harsh criticism of 1920's society, thought ironically the film was intended to uphold those very same values and mores.
August 9, 2013
People love what is new and kill what is familiar.
June 27, 2013
Louise Brooks is uncanny in this. Phenomenal.
May 23, 2013
No one could create Louise Brooks, just like no one could create Pabst's 'Lulu'. No. Pabst's 'Lulu' had to be real, had to exist, and had to do so naturally; unaware. No. Louise Brooks is not a Pabst invention, and neither is her performance in Pandora's Box. What Pabst did, quite simply, was find his 'Lulu'. The film itself is pure invention, Pabst used psychology as his weapon and his intellect as his charm. He pinned actors against each other, he favored one actor on Monday only to dismiss him by Tuesday. Pabst created the purest form of realism possible. By exposing his actor's insecurities, hiding the plot from them, and initiating mind games with every member of the cast on and off set. Pabst loved chess. His love of chess is evident in Pandora's Box. Pandora's Box is his 'check-mate'.

So. No. Pabst did not create Lousie Brooks. Pabst made Lousie Brooks what she is today; an ultimately tragic relic of a bygone age. I cannot believe how astonishingly perfect Pandora's Box was conceived. Pabst is a true nobleman of the cinema for a number of reasons, my confidence will never sway in that regard. Pabst made the perfect film. A rarity, a pleasure, and a true art. His direction, the key to the enigma, only comes out of its perpetual hiding after a few viewings. It is Louise Brooks, and only Louise Brooks, that your eyes and heart feast on during the first time you watch Pandora's Box. Brooks was the most enchanting, dazzling, and transcendental of the silent screen goddesses. In the scene where Shon's is caught making love to her by his fiancÚ and his son, Brooks delivers the greatest facial expression ever captured on film. An act of dominance and sexual achievement. A grin that is truly timeless, as if she's staring through time and space, testing your wildest urges, daring you to love her, and begging you to beg to forget it. Although Brooks didn't know then, or even cared to know at the time, soon she would have Pabst all figured out. She realized that the greatest performance of her career, and one of the most legendary in all of cinema, was not a performance at all, it wasn't even acting. It was her. It was documentary. I was real. Perhaps the greatest invention belonging to G. W. Pabst was the invention of truth. Things look different when they are being filmed, it is a natural reaction to put on on an act of sort when one knows he or she is being watched. Pabst bypassed that fault in cinematic realism and created reality. Untouched by fabled hands, pure and innocent, L. Brooks. Arguably, Pabst is the only director who has ever accomplished such a remarkable feat.
April 1, 2013
I struggled through most of the beginning but it very much so redeems itself in the end. I walked away liking it.
½ March 13, 2013
worth a look just to see "our miss brooks" in all her splendour...
½ March 12, 2013
In a Way, She Is the Box

I had somehow gotten the impression that this movie was lost. Clearly, it is not; the Criterion Collection has put out a fairly impressive release of it. However, I do not know if it was formerly lost and has since been found or if I was wrong that it was lost in the first place. Possibly, this information was in the hefty booklet included in the DVD box, but I didn't actually read it. This is largely because I'm not sure it actually matters one way or another, and it's also true that there was unlikely to be a segment in the booklet that said, "No, you're an idiot. You're thinking of a different German film with homosexuality in it!" Which is why I thought it was lost--there's an obviously lesbian character, and I had the impression that the Nazis had destroyed all the copies they could get their hands on. It wouldn't be the only time that happened, after all, and that may be why I'd gotten confused. If I was.

Anyway, this is the story of Lulu (Louise Brooks), a vamp in the high vamp style of 1920s Germany. She is the mistress of Dr. Ludwig Sch÷n (Fritz Kortner), a newspaper publisher. She is the kind of woman who can destroy a man's reputation, and he decides that he can't remain with her. He decides to marry Charlotte von Zarnikow (Daisy D'Ora), who is better suited to German society. He sets Lulu up to be in a show produced by Rodrigo Quast (Krafft-Raschig), but he then makes the mistake of bringing Charlotte to her show. Lulu has a great screaming fit and won't go on, which eventually ends with her seducing Ludwig. On her wedding night, he finds her in a room with his son, Alwa (Francis Lederer), and a man of her acquaintance, Schigolch (Carl Goetz). Ludwig kicks them out, then tells Lulu to kill herself, because the other alternative is that he will kill her. They struggle. The gun goes off. He is killed. She is convicted of manslaughter, but Alwa and Schigolch spirit her away, and things go rather downhill from there.

To be honest, the lesbian character, Countess Geschwitz (Alice Roberts), was such a minor character that she isn't necessary to a reasonable plot summary. Lulu uses her passport to get out of Germany, but that's about the extent of things so far as I can tell. She's also there to provide a certain titillation to the story--she slouches about in mannish clothing and so forth, and she leers over Lulu. Before Lulu is caught with Alwa and Schigolch, she is seen dancing--at the reception to her own wedding, yes--with the countess. I think we are supposed to see her as shocking, and I think the flirtations with a lesbian are supposed to further that. I don't think it contributes to the plot, though, and if Roberts was going to cry over being forced to show sexual attraction to another woman, it wasn't worth the effort. It's not much of a story in many other ways, but the lesbianism is not merely token but unimportant even to the standards of tokenism.

And, of course, we never do find out for sure who Schigolch is. Lulu claims at one point that he is her father, but it is uncertain that she is telling the truth. There is also considerable speculation that he had been her pimp, before she met up with the Sch÷n family. I believe she refers to him at one point as having been her first patron, but from things the countess says at Lulu's trial, that doesn't preclude either possible explanation. Or, indeed, the possibility that he isn't either. He's a seedy person, and I have little doubt that the prison break is his idea--though of course it's also a bad one, given the life she leads afterward--and that it's largely his fault that things go quite as badly as they do. Honestly, Lulu would have done better just be serving her prison time, but she seems to be incapable of thinking of the future, much less preparing for it. The whole of the story would be changed if Lulu planned ahead even once.

The thing I find worrying, however, is the idea that Lulu is the container through which evil enters these men's lives. This is expressly stated in the trial by the district attorney (uncredited). Her own attorney (also uncredited) plays up the fact that she herself did not intend to kill her husband. That it was an accident caused by her husband. This is, broadly, true. However, the prosecutor follows it with a statement that the Pandora's Box of the title is Lulu herself, that without her, everything would have gone just dandy for her husband. I don't know if that's true or not. what I do know is that no one was forcing him to get involved with her in the first place. I know that some people are worse around each other than either would be alone, but the impression I got was that Ludwig wanted the perks of having such a beautiful woman as Lulu around, but he didn't want to accept any of the consequences of having someone as undisciplined as Lulu around. He had his own evil inside him before he ever met her.
March 10, 2013
Louise Brooks makes a superb role being the woman leading you into a tragic life of interest, desire, lust and love. A representation of the legend of Pandora, in the decadence of the 1920s, that is a must see.
½ March 9, 2013
This film was ahead of it's time and is definitely a masterpiece!!
December 7, 2012
Would like to see at some stage.
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