Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pandora's Box

1929 German Feature
Alternate Title: Die Büchse der Pandora

Cast: Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Franz Lederer, Carl Goetz, Krafft-Raschig, Alice Roberts, Daisy d'Ora, Gustav Diesel and Michael von Newlinsky
Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Writers: Ladislaus Vajda (scenario), Georg Wilhelm Pabst (uncredited) and Joseph Fleisler (titles, uncredited), based on the plays Erdgeist (Earth Play) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box) by Frank Wedekind

The rise and inevitable fall of Lulu, an amoral but naïve young woman whose insouciant eroticism inspires lust and violence in those around her.


  • Internet Movie Database: 7.8/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes - Critics: 90% / Audience: 87%
  • OMG rating: 6/10

  • DVD: Available
  • Books: Available


  • Frank Wedekind's "Lulu plays" Erdgeist (1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (1904), originally produced separately, are now customarily performanced together, in abridged form, under the title Lulu. 
  • Pandora's Box had previously been adapted for the screen in a 1921 German version. Subsequently, it was remade, under the title Lulu, in Austria in 1962 and in America in 1978.
  • Director G.W. Pabst nearly signed Marlene Dietrich to star as Lulu, although he greatly preferred Louise Brooks. According to Pabst, Dietrich was in his office waiting to sign the contract when a cable came from Paramount saying that Brooks wanted to play Lula, the role that made her a star.
  • Countess Augusta (in some prints Anna) Geschwitz is considered by film historians to be cinema's first lesbian character. The actress who played the role, Alice Roberts, reportedly was not aware her character was a lesbian until filming began, and she was initially opposed to playing the role as being attracted to Lulu. G.W. Pabst convinced Roberts to pretend she was making her love gestures to him as he stood just off-camera.
  • Louise Brooks' highly influential "bob" hairdo is referred to as a "Lulu" to this day.
  • Upon its initial release, Pandora's Box was cut in numerous different ways to suit different countries. For example, in France, Alwa was not Schön's son but his secretary, a change which actually had the effect of implying a homosexual relationship between the two men. Some versions, including the original American release, tacked on a saccharine "happy ending", with Lulu joining the Salvation Army(!).
  • Dismissed by critics when it was first released, Pandora's Box was re-discovered by critics in the 1950s, and is now considered one of the classics of German silent cinema. 
  • Pandora's Box was released on DVD as part of The Criterion Collection in 2006.

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