Lulu in Berlin (1984) Poster

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A Rare Interview with Louise Brooks
claudio_carvalho30 June 2012
Louise Brooks was an actress that rarely gave interviews, but in 1971, she gave a filmed interview to Richard Leacock. In 1984, the interviewer and Susan Woll produced and released the documentary "Lulu in Berlin", one year before the death of Louise Brooks.

In this interview, the bitter and cynical Louise Brooks discloses details of "Pandora's Box" and "Diary of a Lost Girl" and about her colleague Carl Goetz; her relationship with the expressionist director Georg Wilhelm Pabst, comparing his working method with Ernst Lubitsch; her meeting with Rene Clair; why Marlene Dietrich has not been selected to perform Lulu; insights about Greta Garbo and Leni Riefenstahl; and her relationship with her lover George Preston Marshall.

The interview gives the impression is that Louise Brooks was an easy woman ahead of time but driven by money, with many love affairs and also a non-professional actress controlled by Pabst. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Lulu em Berlim" ("Lulu in Berlin")
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The Stylistics Of Pabst Shine Through Anecdotal Surface.
rsoonsa20 April 2006
This is a particularly valuable documentary for cineastes to savour, because of the unique nature of the reminiscences concerning film personalities in the late 1920s and the 1930s, as discussed by actress Louise Brooks during an interview given her by documentarian Richard Leacock, a work that forms the basis for Kenneth Tynan's famous New Yorker profile of Brooks that, in turn, contributed hugely toward elevating the dark eyed performer to cult status, although there are some who believe that she has not the talent to support the resultant acclaim, but rather that her own writing of her cinema experiences is after being a gift to herself. Leacock crosses against his grain here, as he had promised never to utilize a tactic of an interview, but he blithely alters his decision to create this piece, shot with 16mm. in the former star's small Rochester, New York apartment the year preceding that of her death, a pleasing effort that provides some fresh insights into the careers of notable players and directors, at the same time opening pages of what has been a closed book of her own life. Among the morsels included are: her reason for going to Berlin (more money); a rationale behind the selection of her by G.W. Pabst instead of Marlene Dietrich to play as Lulu in PANDORA'S BOX (Dietrich at 25 was too worn-looking); her complete ignorance of her role, with no knowledge concerning Frank Wedekind, Lulu's creator; the stormy relationship with dilettante George Marshall, owner of the Washington Redskins football team; her detailed comparison of auteur Pabst's working methods with those of Ernst Lubitsch and Edmund Goulding (the great German director employed a separate fashion of psychology with each of his players, whereas the latter pair acted out every role as they wished it to be performed); a description of French director René Clair; her negative opinion of Hollywood "producers": they (all, apparently) are filled with lust for power and a craving to "sleep with beautiful actresses". The documentary benefits as well from some brief but valued clips from other films than PANDORA, including Pabst's powerful DIARY OF A LOST GIRL, featuring Brooks, and JOYLESS STREET, with Greta Garbo, each notable for the imaginative textures created by the director; scenes of Leni Riefenstahl as both director and player; the 1927 silent classic BERLIN: SYMPHONY OF A GREAT CITY; and the sequence from PANDORA wherein Brooks launches into a free style Denishawn dance item. A separate BBC version, part of the British produced series "Film Firsts", and released against the wishes of Leacock, has appended a brief and quite well designed overview of Brooks' career in film, with significant footage, including the final feature film appearance by her, along with short snippets of Vilma Banky, Camilla Horn, and others. Although Brooks emphasises her hatred of Hollywood, she splashes cold water upon the credibility of such an emotion by her return there, completing her cinematic feature film output by acting in "B" Westerns, the final one seen here (with John Wayne), and in the end it is the unique and striking camera technique of Pabst that leaves the most lasting impression, causing a viewer to surmise that perhaps the primary contribution of Brooks to world aesthetics is actually her espousement of the page boy, or bobbed, hair style that she popularized as her trademark.
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Louise Brooks Discusses Her Collaboration With G.W. Pabst
swagner200131 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"Lulu In Berlin" features a rare filmed interview with Louise Brooks. Shot in 1984, just a year before she died, the dancer, turned-actress, turned-dancing instructor, turned writer, discusses her collaboration with G.W. Pabst on the films "Pandora's Box" and "Diary of a Lost Girl." Her interviewer is a film historian who is very articulate, but seems very tense, and uptight, sitting so near his cinematic idol. Brooks is very laid back as she speaks into a large desk microphone, relating her film career adventures. Her interview overlaps production photos from the shoot, as well as footage from her other films.

Aside from Pabst, she mentions meeting Rene Clair, and critiques her rivals: Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, and Leni Riefenstahl. "Lulu In Berlin" is a marvelous 50 minute visit with a fascinating actress.

My only complaint, if there is one, is that the interview footage plays like a formal interview - and is not quite as relaxed as two friends talking together. Luckily, Brooks loves telling stories, and does not appear impeded whatsoever by her clinical surroundings.

Andrew Sarris once noted that the classic film "Casablanca is the happiest of accidents." After watching this interview, one feels Brook's acting career was, for us, "the happiest of accidents." She claims she HATED seeing herself on the screen, knew nothing about acting, and called the acting profession "legalized slavery." She only felt happy dancing, and writing. I feel we're very fortunate that she made a career tangent into films, no matter how brief.

Also - anyone who loves this documentary - should check out the book Brooks wrote about the silent era. Good stuff.
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Louise Brooks
bensonmum225 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Lulu in Berlin is a really nice look back at the short film career of Louise Brooks. I'll be honest, until I watched The Canary Murder Case, I really didn't know much about Ms. Brooks. I did a little reading after watching that movie and found an interesting story of a woman who did Hollywood under her own terms. However, her decisions ultimately cost Ms. Brooks her career.

Anyway, Lulu in Berlin is fascinating to me because we hear the stories straight from the mouth of Ms. Brooks. At 78, she's still full of life and still has that twinkle in he eye. It's much better than a third person recount of her career. The documentary focuses on her time in Germany. The stories and the people involved are . . . well, fascinating (I hate to keep using that word). The stories of her many loves, the stories from the set, and the stories of her dealings with the studios held my interest throughout. I'm so glad Richard Leacock and Susan Woll had to foresight to put this together because Louise Brooks was gone within two years.

My 7/10 rating and not higher is due to wanting more and Leacok's interview style. If you're a fan of cinema history, be sure to check this out. It's fascinating.
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