Pandora's Box - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pandora's Box Reviews

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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 Schön (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 Schön 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.
½ November 13, 2012
Louise Brooks embosses herself firmly in the annals of cinema history with her performance as the quintessential seductress Lulu in G.W. Pabst's "Pandora's Box", the silent adaptation of a series of German plays. Though effectively shot and made, the film can't help but feely stageily fragmented due to its assemblage of theatrical acts. But its a film best remembered for its star gazing rather than its artistic clout anyway. With her flagrant sex appeal and emotive yet unmannered features, Brooks forges an effortless union between her appearance and the subtext that informs her character, an uncommonly progressive acting style for the silent era.
½ September 1, 2012
Lesbian love triangles , serial killings , and numerous other sexual imbroglios have never been filmed in such beautiful black and white images as they are here ...well...almost never.
August 24, 2012
As seductive as it is tragic, "Pandora's Box" is some solid cinema in many respects, including visual style. I don't think I've seen an American film match its style until at least the 1940's . . .
August 17, 2012
Good, but it's not "Threepenny Opera".
July 30, 2012
Louise Brooks is absolutely amazing in this film. A story that sucks you in and leaves a trails of bodies behind.
½ July 4, 2012
From the opening sequence, this silent-era psycho-sexual film challenges the classical picture of olden times where propriety reigned. For those who claim that old movies were overly modest, they need to take a look here. This film shows Louis Brooks at her finest. She is a flirt, seductive and successfully manipulative.

The sequence opens up as Brooks' character, Lulu, finishes "entertaining" a man. Lulu is a high end escort who has caught the eye of one rich man. The rich man is engaged and wishes to break off his relationship with his mistress Lulu. As hard as he tries, he ends back up in the arms of Lulu. At the beginning, Lulu's former agent/pimp shows up to lure her into show business. From then on, her former agent and hopeful show business partner remain attached to Lulu hoping to live from her success. Eventually Lulu becomes a fugitive of the law and must try to survive from Germany to France to London.

Lulu is a character that knows how to flirt and get what she wants from men. Ultimately, her childish innocence in her adult promiscuous life style proves her downfall. Brooks portrays Lulu as vivacious, seductive, immature in a highly lauded performance. The characters are not simple two dimensional, but all have their deep complexities brought out successfully in this silent era film. The director Pabst makes perfect use of the camera close-ups and full angle shots to present Lulu as adorable yet also dangerous. His direction is masterful as he carefully unravels the sexually manipulative success of a perfect woman created by the gods but who also unleashes great evils on those who come into contact with her.
½ July 2, 2012
This is a poignant story of a talented and beautiful women broken down by her own fate.
Her self-worth becomes numb as she uses and fulfills her desires and emotions through her sexuality.
Her life is clouded by this philosophy and starts a downward spiral.
Her dreams become reality and life as a mistress begins to tear her apart.
Her charm is seductive and you feel there is a chance for her.
She is cursed with beauty and everyone wants to take this from her. They become perversely infatuated and drain her out of all that is good inside her.
She becomes her own victim.
It saddens me that her character ends with misfortune.
April 25, 2012
It's about 20-30 minutes too long, but the idea behind the film is solid, and the faces of each of the actors say thousands of words (which is necessary in the land of silent flicks). The beautiful Louise Brooks plays Lulu, a sort of precursor to the femme fatales of film noir. "Pandora's Box" is dark and stylish, and the treat of seeing it with live musical accompaniment was a real treat!
April 19, 2012
One of the best silent movies ever! The acting, direction and fast paced scenes make this movie to die for! Louise Brooks was so sexy!
January 27, 2012
A landmark of the slent era. The Beautiful Luis Brooks gives one of the most memorable performances in cinema history.
December 17, 2011
A fantastic silent film that, unlike most dramatic silents, kept my interest all the way through. Pabst creates a complicated and dynamic character who is played with great skill and accuracy by Louise Brooks. Well made and enjoyable film.
December 13, 2011
Probably one of the top silent movies. It will be difficult to forget how Louise Brooks performed here.
½ November 17, 2011
This silent film occupies an important page in film history, along with the immortal Louise Brooks, an iconic cinema figure, with deep, seductive eyes and passionate sensuality, while sometimes innocent and naive, who becomes an object of obsession and desire for all who cross her path. Such is the force able to uncover a Pandora's box and pour around it fatal doom.
A film to be appreciated within the literary and theatrical tradition of melodrama, quite daring for its time.
½ November 14, 2011
well done acting story resoration
November 9, 2011
Classic silent, one of the best!!
September 28, 2011
an old movie that looks COOL ;)
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