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A very rare film with flaws but well worth seeking out, and truer to Wedekind than Pabst was
As somebody who just adapted LULU for comics(or at least the first part of the first play) I have to say the prudish and ignorant review that's up for this is...interesting. While it's true Borowczyk's film is not quite as good a film as PANDORA'S BOX, he doesn't seem to understand the source material, starting with his thinking that LULU was a novel. It wasn't. It was two plays, ERDGEIST & PANDORA'S BOX. The Pabst film only adapts the second of these. So the comparison is not apt.
Secondly, Brooks in PANDORA'S BOX does bare flesh, as much as a film of the time would allow. The reviewer is obviously forgetting a tussle she has with Schoen backstage where a breast gets bared. And besides, he also doesn't seem to realize nudity is common in stagings of the opera version by Alban Berg.
As for the film itself, the main flaw for me is the dubbing. The acting is not the best in the English voice actors(I am only going by this version, as it's almost impossible to find this film and that was the only one I have seen). That is sadly a common problem with films from Europe in this era. Apart from that, the film--for anyone actually familiar either with Wedekind's plays or the intention of them--captures what Wedekind was actually going for. The look of the film is lovely, especially in the opening scene in Schwarz's studio. The amount of flesh is entirely appropriate for the actual story; it fits Lulu's lack of self-consciousness, a central part of her character and the source of the tragedy in the story. Lulu is a free spirit in every way who is also a magnet for self-destructive men who use her as the occasion and excuse for their own downfall--in many ways what is most interesting about her character is that she is an inversion of the femme fatale trope, almost a critique of it. Anne Bennant manages to capture this. It is a little odd that her actual father plays her lover Schoen; fortunately there are no love scenes between them.
There are a number of flaws, chief among them being the speed at which Borowczyk goes through the story(two plays of three acts in less than 90 minutes), but the cuts he makes are in aspects of the story that aren't really missed, like the circus strongman Rodrigo. He also makes the creepiness of her dad, Schilgoch, much clearer than Pabst--who can be argued to have mangled Wedekind's story--does. Pabst makes it cute. But Schilgoch basically pimped his own daughter out and Borowczyk makes this an inescapable fact.And Udo Kier's Jack the Ripper is very much the one Wedekind wrote, Pabst's being far more sympathetic than the one in the play.
I would say the best way to deal with the films is to watch them both and to compare, but with a familiarity with Wedekind and Berg. It's well worth seeking out, and is a worthy entry in Borowczyk's catalog.
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