Saturday, September 5, 2009

Diary of a Lost Girl (GW Pabst) ***1/2

GW Pabst

Cast: Louise Brooks, Andre Roanne, Josef Rovensky, Fritz Rasp, Vera Pawlowa

Background: Pabst and Brooks team up again after thair great collaboration in the classic Pandora's Box. The story was based on a novel written by Margarete Bohme.

Story: Thymiane (Brooks) is pregnant after being raped by a family friend. When she refuses to marry the man, her baby is taken away and she must fend for herself in a brutal reform school.

Thoughts: Pabst and Brooks team up to great effect. Once again, we have a story where Pabst directly challenges the sexist society of the day. Most of this film is incredibly bleak, a stark contrast to what we saw in Pandora's Box. Brooks undergoes so much terrible treatment throughout the film that it even makes the typical Lillian Gish treatment seem tame. The third act turns everything on its head, and it's here where he really departs from his previous film. Whereas his previous film has oft been misinterpreted as a warning sign or a lesson for women who act like Lulu did in that film (as if this could somehow be the case and the movie still be good), he avoids any possibility for misinterpretation here. Instead, he goes for a more hopeful message, that a woman like Thymiane has a chance to prevail. Louise Brooks comes up with a terrific performance again, in some ways more accomplished than in Pandora's Box.

Postscript: This would be the last time Pabst and Brooks teamed up, and also the last silent film either of them made. The next year Pabst made an anti-war film called Westfront 1918, while Brooks would continue to work in Europe with the French film Beauty Prize.

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