Pandora's Box (1929)
This review contains SPOILERS!
"Pandora's Box" is one of the silent cinema age's tales of morality. It concerns a woman of loose morals, who seems to be both a prostitute and a lady. The movie's acts which rarely seem to serve any purpose other than breaking up the monotony each plow into the next one until at last the film feels both overly compressed and stretched past its breaking point.
Lulu (Louise Brooks) is the main character of "Pandora's Box", a seductress like no other. She likes in a nice loft and every man who shows his face becomes ensnared with her feminine charm and her wiles. Yet we don't see her as the villain of the movie, which is something for certain you would get in 40s films. Instead, her male counterparts are often the aggressors and we see her as the victim of many unfortunate circumstances. She is unafraid of using her sexuality to get out of a tight spot.
One of her chief clients/lovers is a prominent doctor in the town and he comes to tell her that he's breaking it off because he's getting married and the scandal would bring him under. But she flirts and dances and bats her eyes and he goes a little weak and the knees; but remains resolute, his jealousy increasing when he finds another man in her apartment.
So he goes along with his marriage; but his son Alwa (Francis Lederer) thinks that his father should marry Lulu instead.
And here is starts to get nasty....I'll condense as much as possible:
The doctor returns to Lulu and eventually marries her which only leads to his son confessing his love of Lulu to her on the night of her wedding. Jealous beyond reason, the doctor tries to kill Lulu only to find himself dead. Now Lulu is on trial for the death of her very brief husband.
The amount of plot twists that jerk you around is not even enjoyable, since the story has no real compelling atmosphere to it. Lulu isn't praised or condemned (which is fine if the story was interesting) and her surroundings keep changing from riches to rags and then eventually something far more nasty.
The end scene of "Pandora's Box" makes us scratch our heads and wonder if the whole movie was some sort of altruistic sermon on the dangers of being a promiscuous woman. It was certainly seem that way, and Lulu had it coming this whole time...that's what I don't appreciate.
As the movie starts to increase its drama steam, we get more and more ridiculous circumstances that range all the way out to the flat-out bizarre. It makes no sense and the way it hinges makes me believe that the writers and director G. W. Pabst just wanted to stretch his movie out as long as possible without losing everything in it.
Characters are introduced too suddenly, scene changes skip over months, and eventually I stopped caring about the entire mess.
It's a silent scream, but hey, maybe you like that kind of thing.
Posted by Micah Jones