Die Büchse der Pandora
(Pandora's Box | Loulou)

by Georg Wilhelm Pabst

Germany 1929

(click to enlarge)

Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Seymour Nebenzahl
Executive Producer:
Georg C. Horsetzky
Production Companies:
Nero-Film AG, Berlin
Ladislaus Vajda (based on the plays Erdgeist and Die Büchse der Pandora by Frank Wedekind)
Günther Krampf (b/w, 1.37:1)
Joseph R. Fiesler
Music Score:
Willy Schmidt-Gentner (1929); Peer Raben (1997)
Production Designer:
Andrej Andrejev, Gottlieb Hesch
Assistant Director:
Mark Sorkin, Paul Falkenberg
Costume Design:
Gottlieb Hesch
Louise Brooks (Lulu), Fritz Kortner (Dr. Peter Schön), Franz Lederer (Alwa Schön), Carl Goetz (Schigolch), Krafft Raschig (Rodrigo Quasi), Alice Roberts (Countess Anna Geschwitz), Daisy d'Ora (Charlotte M.A. von Zanik), Gustav Diessl (Jack the Ripper), Michael von Newlinski (Marquis Casti-Piani), Siegfried Arno (Instructor), Hans Casparius, Paul Falkenberg
8 reels = 3255 m (3265 m before censorship by Filmprüfstelle Berlin 30 Jan 1929)
132 min = 3020 m (version restored 1997 by ZDF/Arte)

Production shooting from 17 October through 23 November 1928

9 February 1929 (Germany)

"Pandora's Box is loosely adapted from two Wedekind plays comprising the 'Lulu' tragedy. The story deals with a beautiful, amoral woman who destroys all those who come under her spell, but who, as a Soho prostitute, falls victim to Jack the Ripper. Under Pabst's direction, the film is a masterpiece of atmosphere, camera movement and editing; it is also one of the most sexually charged films ever made, due largely to the incendiary performance of the American actress Louise Brooks .... All film faces, director G.W. Pabst must have known, are two-way mirrors. In Pandora's Box, Louise Brooks' impassive, enigmatic visage is a wide-eyed reflecting pool for the sexual depravity which her beauty seems to inspire and which, in the end, haunts her. ... her indifference is at once distancing and magnetic, qualities which Pabst used ingeniously. In the film's most glowing scene, amid the feverish, shimmering sensuality of the backstage bustle, Brooks emerges (as Lotte Eisner has written) 'like some pagan idol,' throwing the background out of focus, perhaps because the whole of the film is contained in that face."
Pacific Film Archive

"By suggesting everything and delivering nothing, Hollywood movies have traditionally tantalized intellectuals. ... Enter G.W. Pabst with an unusually developed flair for eros in the cinema even for a European. He is not such an overt iconoclast as Stroheim and Buñuel, nor as witty and as elegant a witness to sexual folly as Lubitsch, nor as strongly driven to grandiose designs of erotic domination as Lang. Pabst is more the urbane analyst, bemused by the desires depicted in his films, occasionally even enchanted by them, but never hypocritical about his own complicity in the spectacle... ."
— Andrew Sarris, Village Voice

"... we have the miracle of Louise Brooks ..., [who], always enigmatically impassive, overwhelmingly exists throughout these films [Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl]. We know that Louise Brooks is a remarkable actress endowed with uncommon intelligence, and not merely a dazzlingly beautiful woman. ... Nobody has ever equalled Pabst's portrayal of the back-stage fever on the opening night of a big show, the hurrying and scurrying during the scene changes, the stage seen from the wings as the performers go on and off and bound forward to acknowledge their applause at the end of their act, the rivalry, complacency, and humour, the bewildering bustle of stage hands and electricians — a stupendous whirl of artistic aspirations, colorful detail, and facile eroticism. ... Pabst directs all this turmoil with remarkable dexterity; everything has been worked out in advance; at precisely calculated intervals a few figures cross in front of or behind a main group, giving an impression of effervescence and dynamism... ."
— Lotte Eisner: The Haunted Screen. Berkeley-Los Angeles-Oxford 1994, p. 296, 298

"... le film par excellence, celui où la rêverie d'un cinéaste, incarnée dans la plus parfaite des actrices, s'est ouverte une voie royale vers l'inconscient des spectateurs et l'immortalité. ... La lourdeur et la légèreté qui se partagent le style de Pabst disparaissent finalement l'une et l'autre dans une fluidité géniale, à tel point qu'il devient impossible de déterminer le rôle respectif du découpage et du montage, de la préméditation et de l'improvisation."
— Jacques Lourcelles: Dictionnaire du cinéma. Les films. Paris 1992, p. 856

Film Reviews | DVD Reviews

Second Sight Films
Region 0 (UK)
132:41 min (+ 4% PAL Speedup = 138 min)
1.30:1/4:3 FullScreen
Average Bitrate: 5.48 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
New Music Score by Peer Raben Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
German intertitles • English subtitles (optional)
• Documentary Looking for Lulu (USA 1998), written by Barry Paris and narrated by Shirley MacLaine (1.33:1, 59:48 min, 5.47 mb/s)
DVD Release Date: 22 June 2002
Keep Case
Chapters: 16
DVD Encoding: PAL Region 0
SS-DL/DVD-9 (7.74 GB)
This is the 1997 ZDF/Arte restauration of Pabst's film with a new moody score by Peer Raben. Film elements are a bit soft, but mostly well preserved with a rich greyscale. There are some visible compression artifacts, but the overall quality of this transfer is good.
As a bonus, the DVD features the 60-min documentary on Louise Brooks' life, Looking for Lulu, that contains rare film footage and photographs, interviews with friends, relatives and acting colleagues, as well as a fascinating interview with Brooks herself recorded in 1976 (this documentary was released in North America on DVD by Image Entertainment)

Film: **** out of *****
**** out of *****


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Average Bitrate :
5.48 mb/s

The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes

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Last update: 18 Nov 2002