Louise Brooks & Francis Lederer in Pandora’s Box (1929, G.W. Pabst)
Lillian Gish in Way Down East (1920, D.W. Griffith)
We call her “Anna” - we might have called her “Woman” - for is not hers the story…
Louise Brooks & Fritz Körtner in Pandora’s Box (1929, G.W. Pabst) (via drmacro)
Louise Brooks on the outrage that followed the release of Pandora’s Box:
“Besides daring to show the prostitute as the victim; Mr. Pabst went on to the final damning immorality of making his Lulu as “sweetly innocent” as the flowers which adorned her costumes and filled the scenes of the play…So it is that my playing of the tragic Lulu with no sense of sin remains generally unacceptable to this day. Three years ago, after seeing Pandora’s Box at Eastman House, a priest said to me, “How did you feel? Playing that girl!” “Feel? I felt fine! It all seemed perfectly normal to me.” Seeing him start with distaste and disbelief, and unwilling to be mistaken for one of those women who like to shock priests with sensational confessions, I went on to prove the truth of Lulu’s world by my own experience in the 1925 Follies, when my best friend was a lesbian and I knew two millionaire publishers, much like Schoen in the film, who backed shows to keep themselves well supplied with Lulus. But the priest rejected my reality exactly as Berlin had rejected its reality when we made Lulu and sex was the business of the town.
At the Eden Hotel, where I lived in Berlin [while filming Pandora’s Box], the café bar was lined with the higher-priced trollops. The economy girls walked the streets outside. On the corner stood the girls in boots, advertising flagellation. Actors’ agents pimped for the ladies in luxury apartments in the Bavarian Quarter. Race-track touts at the Hoppegarten arranged orgies for groups of sportsmen. The nightclub Eldorado displayed an enticing line of homosexuals dressed as women. At the Maly, there was a choice of feminine or collar-and-tie lesbians. Collective lust roared unashamed at the theater. In the revue Chocolate Kiddies, when Josephine Baker appeared naked except for a girdle of bananas, it was precisely as Lulu’s stage entrance was described by Wedekind: “They rage there as in a menagerie when the meat appears at the cage.”
I revered Pabst for his truthful picture of this world of pleasure which let me play Lulu naturally. The rest of the cast were tempted to rebellion. And perhaps that was his most brilliant directorial achievement-getting a group of actors to play characters without “sympathy”, whose only motivation was sexual gratification.”
Princess Nicotine; or, The Smoke Fairy (1909, dir.J. Stuart Blackton) (via brightlightsfilm.com)
This 5-minute silent film is less notable for its relatively simple plot (a smoker is woken up by two mischievous fairies who proceed to torment him) than for its groundbreaking visual effects (many of the shots are designed to show the tiny fairies interacting with objects much larger than themselves). When Princess Nicotine; or, The Smoke Fairy was released a century ago, the special effects were considered so advanced & state-of-the-art that scientific journals published articles about them.
The film is viewable on youtube here.