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Pandora's Box (1929)

Die Büchse der Pandora (original title)
The rise and inevitable fall of an amoral but naive young woman whose insouciant eroticism inspires lust and violence in those around her.

Writers:

Frank Wedekind (plays), Ladislaus Vajda (scenario)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Louise Brooks ... Lulu
Fritz Kortner Fritz Kortner ... Dr. Ludwig Schön
Francis Lederer ... Alwa Schön (as Franz Lederer)
Carl Goetz Carl Goetz ... Schigolch
Krafft-Raschig Krafft-Raschig ... Rodrigo Quast
Alice Roberts Alice Roberts ... Gräfin Geschwitz - Countess Anna Geschwitz
Daisy D'Ora Daisy D'Ora ... Charlotte Marie Adelaide v. Zarnikow - braut Dr. Schöns - Dr. Schön's Bride (as Daisy d'Ora)
Gustav Diessl ... Jack the Ripper (as Gustav Diesel)
Michael von Newlinsky ... Marquis Casti-Piani (as Michael v. Newlinsky)
Sig Arno ... Der inspizient - the Stage Manager (as Siegfried Arno)
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Storyline

Lulu is a beautiful young woman who can seemingly work her charms on all of the men around her. She is currently being kept by the rich editor Dr. Ludwig Schön. She is just a plaything however and he is engaged to be married to Charlotte, a woman of his own class. He arranges for Lulu to appear in his son Alwa's musical revue and he too falls for all of her charms. When Dr. Schön and his fiancée go to the theater, Lulu ensures that he is put in a compromising situation and the elder Schön feels he now must marry her, knowing full well it will ruin his reputation. On his wedding day, Dr. Schön reaches his breaking point. His actions cost him his life however and Lulu is convicted of manslaughter. She escapes with the help of her old cronies but together they begin a downward spiral. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

22 February 1930 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Pandora's Box See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,950, 18 June 2006, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$9,950, 18 June 2006
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Nero-Film AG See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(restored) | (Copy with French titles at Brussels Musée du Cinéma) | (original) | (video) | (2018) (restored)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film historians have credited the sudden presence of sound in moving pictures for the commercial struggles of this film. See more »

Goofs

The poster warning Londoners of Jack the Ripper is in German instead of English. See more »

Quotes

Salvation Army Woman: [Unbeknownst, to Jack the Ripper] Brother, how can I help you?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Upon its initial release, the film was cut in numerous different ways to suit different countries:
  • In France, Alwa was not Schon's son but his secretary - a change which actually had the effect of implying a homosexual relationship between the two men.
  • In the United States, the film was released in a heavily censored 90-minute version, with a happy ending. This ending - in which Lulu joins the Salvation Army - was so unconvincing that when the film played in New York, its distributors placed a disclaimer at the beginning, emphasizing that they were not responsible for the censorship forced upon them, and they apologized for what was termed "an added saccharine ending."
  • The film was restored in 1983, but the fact that it originally ran 130 minutes and the restored version is only 110 minutes means that some original footage may be lost forever.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Witches (1990) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A natural in action
26 December 2002 | by tprofumoSee all my reviews

Louise Brooks may have never studied acting, but every actor should study her. How much they can learn is questionable though. This dancer/chorus girl turned film star was one of those rare creatures who probably couldn't have told you what she was doing, even if she thought long and hard about it (and Brooks was an intelligent, articulate woman.)

Like a great natural athlete, she simply could do it, and do it better than almost anyone else. Pandora's Box is the greatest existing record of her technique and remarkable talents.

On the surface, a run of the mill story of a femme fatale who destroys the men around her, this G. W. Pabst film is complicated, dark, moody, and seemingly packed with contradictory messages. Well acted and well directed by Pabst, it nonetheless would have been forgotten decades ago, had it not been for its star.

Brooks was one of the most beautiful, most photogenic woman to ever appear on the screen. From some angles, her face is so remarkable it almost doesn't seem real.

Her personality exceeds her beauty and it was the perfect personality to capture the childish, petulant, self centered, yet sweetly innocent kid who is the embodiment of every pretty girl who wants what she wants, regardless of the consequences.

Pabst' film, based on two German stage plays, is also a fascinating look at male sexual obsession, at men unable to control their lust who want to destroy the object of that lust before she destroys them.

Yet all the messages aside, it is simply Brooks totally natural performance that in the end will be remembered here.

Ironically, Brooks was really no more than a starlet in her American silent film days and it took her three European films to elevate her name above the title. And those films were hardly seen in the U.S. in their day. Yet today, women whose names were household words in America in the silent era, like Coleen Moore and even Clara Bow, are all but forgotten, while the Brooks legend grows stronger each year.

While Brooks has benefitted from a well written biography and the adoration of much of the press, a close examination of Pandora's Box proves she was much more than just hype.

This movie is one of the great treasures of the cinema, and Louise Brooks is one of the most talented and most fascinating actresses to ever appear in movies, on either side of the Atlantic.


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