Thursday, December 31, 2015

Blind Spot: Pandora’s Box (1929)

Classic doesn't necessarily mean great.

Directed by G.W. Pabst
Produced by Heinz Landsmann
Written by Ladislaus Vajda; Frank Wedekind (plays)
Starring Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner and Francis Lederer

Plot Summary: A young woman encounters several men throughout her tragic journey.

Significance: Widely regarded as one of the greatest films in early German cinema, it was featured in the latest Sight and Sound Poll (#235 in the 2012 critics poll and #224 in the directors one), and it was also listed #248 in Empire’s 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, which was published in 2008.

Thoughts: Though its reputation places it in the realm of all-time great cinema, my first Pabst film was a very sluggish viewing experience. The plot - a series of the woman’s relationships with men - feels stretched thin, which could be said of other silent films, and the film is too distant. Of course, the image of Louise Brooks’ bob cut is iconic, and the film boasts terrific cinematography from Günther Krampf. While it might be a film to be studied and appreciated on technical and historical merit, the film is not as engaging as the classic I was expecting. However, I suspect the film improves on additional viewings, but it never really grabbed me on a first look.

Rating: B

This is the twelfth film in my 2015 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil.

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