Thymian is raped by her father's assistant. When she becomes pregnant and bears a child but refuses to marry her assaulter, her outraged father sends her to a brutal reformatory. Thymian soon escapes with a friend, Erika (Edith Meinhard), only to learn that her child has died. She then finds Erika working at a brothel and, with no option, joins her. Gradually, Thymian works her way higher by marrying a count, but her past haunts her.Written by
Canon y mus
The melodrama we would love with Stahl's and Sirk's works was born with Pabst .We are far from DW Griffith's "orphans in the storm" !Although implausible,this film has realist accents and Pabst's directing takes our breath away.And what a beautiful last line:"Nobody's lost when there's a little love!"
Melodrama is par excellence a woman's story.An unfairly treated woman.Its construction is parabolic: happiness,downfall,redemption. But "Tagebuch" is much more complex;its first part already features tragedy:Elisabeth's suicide is a sinister omen.
The reformatory where two martinets (a shrew and a terrifying smiling bald man)treat their pupils like dogs.The scene when the girls eat their soup is unforgettable.
The scene at the notary's office where Thymiane returns good for evil ,which climaxes the movie.Pabst uses no (or so few) subtitles : his pictures have the strength of a Chaplin movie.The close-up on Meinert's hand after the girl has refused to shake it,sublimates her redemption.
The final scene when Thymiane meets again her former mate and her final rebellion:"I know the benefits of that house!"
Like very few silent movies,"Tagebuch" can grab today's audience at least as much as "Pandora's box" (aka "Loulou" aka "der büchse der Pandora").Both movies have a very dense screenplay full of twists and unexpected ends -Loulou's death in the former;Thymiane's rebellion in the latter).Both feature Louise Brooks ,who remains an attractive woman even by today's canons when so many silent screen actresses'charm -and actors' - seems outdated nowadays (think of Brigitte Helm -Maria in Lang's masterpiece "Metropolis").Her charisma was so strong that she did not have to speak to move us.That may account for her failure in the talkies.
Do not miss Pabst's anti-war "West front 1918" either.It compares favorably to Milestone's "All quiet on the western front" and Gance's "J'accuse".
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