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Pandora's Box [DVD]

Price: £8.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Francis Lederer, Carl Goetz, Krafft-Raschig
  • Directors: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
  • Writers: Georg Wilhelm Pabst, Joseph Fleisler, Frank Wedekind, Ladislaus Vajda
  • Producers: Heinz Landsmann, Seymour Nebenzal
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English, German
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Second Sight
  • DVD Release Date: 24 Jun. 2002
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000667MT
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,176 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

G.W. Pabst's silent masterpiece stars Louise Brooks as Lulu, the femme fatale who causes passions to overheat wherever she goes. The mistress of a Berlin newspaper editor until his untimely death, Lulu subsequently takes up with his son as she seeks to evade the attentions of the law.


Made at the very end of the silent era, Pandora's Box is one of the last flowerings of German cinema's greatest decade. It also marked the highpoint of two careers: Austrian director GW Pabst and American actress Louise Brooks. A merge of two linked plays by the decadent German playwright Frank Wedekind, it's the story of Lulu, the archetypal femme fatale (the same plays served as source for Alban Berg's masterly 1935 opera). At once sensual and innocent, a force of uninhibited sexuality, Lulu brings ruin on all her lovers both male and female, and ultimately upon herself.

Hollywood never knew what to do with Brooks who, with her fierce intelligence and her open delight in sex, refused to play the coy flappers then in fashion. In Pabst, whose genius, she wrote, "lay in getting to the heart of a person", she found the director she needed, and he brought out her a screen persona with a depth of eroticism that's still breathtaking to see. The film features some of the finest German acting talent of the period--Fritz Kortner, Franz Lederer--but it's Brooks' luminous performance that rivets the eye and makes her a great screen icon.

Though the action is nominally set in the late-19th century--Lulu ends up in a shadowy London where she encounters Jack the Ripper--Pandora's Box breathes the gamey air of the Weimar Republic, vividly captured by Günther Krampf's pungent photography. This release runs well over two hours and includes, for the first time in decades, over 30 minutes of cut footage, restoring the film to something very close to Pabst's original masterpiece.

On the DVD: Pandora's Box on DVD is a clean, crisp transfer in the classic 4:3 ratio, and the mono soundtrack brings out all the detail of Peer Rubens' Kurt Weill-inflected score, stylishly performed by the Kontraste Ensemble. Dialogue intertitles can be read in either English or German. We also get an outstanding 60-minute documentary, Looking for Lulu, about Brooks' life and career: warmly narrated by Shirley MacLaine, it features excerpts from an interview with Brooks from 1976. --Philip Kemp

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Skene on 28 July 2002
Format: DVD
Having practically grown up with various incarnations of"Pandora's Box" (from grainy 16 mm prints to VHS copies), it was gratifying to finally see this classic in a newly restored print. Combined with a newly composed score (which in itself is a model of tasteful composition), the full impact of G.W. Pabst's telling of the Wedekind tale is astonishing. No wonder Louise Brooks became an icon for generations of filmgoers. The naturalness with which she conveys the complex character of Lulu runs the gamut of subtleties (which were never really visable in previous versions owing to the murk of bad prints) and one could scarcely wonder why she didn't achieve the same status in America. Clearly, the director and actor were exploring new territory here - one which American filmakers were simply not doing.
This version of Pandora's Box is the one to have and to view over and over again. It is filled with a richness that defies age.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Donald Thompson VINE VOICE on 4 April 2008
Format: DVD
This is a movie I've wanted to see for a long time. Yet was always put off when confronted with various edited versions previously available. One of which infamously lasted only 55 minutes! This is the full restored version brought together by Second Sight. And it certainly is worth the wait. Th central character of Lulu is played by Louise Brooks, in her most famous role, as a carefree promiscuous naive waif. She is adored by men, and in a groundbreaking role, by women. In this case played by the reclusive belgian actress Alice Roberts. Unwittingly she brings tragedy and destruction to all those round her, except the repulsive and enigmatic Schigolch, who may be her father or her pimp. Through it all Lulu tries to do only what is the best for everyone, but as in the original Greek myth of Pandora, it is the lust of men, and in this case one woman, for her which leads ultimately to their own destruction and demise. In the end it is Lulu's desire to do good for others which leads to her own demise at the hands of Jack the Ripper.
Directed by G W Pabst in Berlin just three years before Hitler came to power, the film in essence is a tale of the Weimar Republics "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die" attitude to life. Its roots in German realism are highlighted by the stark differences between Lulu's apartment in Berlin and her final garrett in a fog bound London at christmas. The incongruity of the obvious 50 year time shift is never jarringly obvious, but it is there.
Based on 2 plays by the controversial playwright Wedekind, its avowed aim to shock, and outrage its audience is easily achieved. Pabst giving free rein to all the shocking immorality, to middle class audiences, which lived right under their turned up noses and averted gazes.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Wildfire on 22 July 2002
Format: DVD
Second Sight have worked wonders with this print, backing it with a good orchestral music track. The restoration of previously cut footage, however, is always a mixed blessing and it would have been nice to have a typically cut version available (using the tricks of DVD) just so we could judge for ourselves: cuts are usually made for good reasons and a sensitive editor can tighten the cinematic experience considerably - nobody cut a Pabst film without good reason.
To compensate, Second Sight have provided a marvellous little biopic lasting around an hour including an interview with Louise Brooks herself (among many sentimental reflections from friends etc., and a sprinkling of extracts). US viewers would recognise this as "Looking for Lulu" (available on DVD on the Image label).
What's lacking - this is why I could only rate it 4 - was a leaflet of any sort. A list of chapter points would have been nice - I don't like having to stop the film just to restart it via the scene selection menu; or flick about with the remote control when I could simply key in the scene I want from the list. Further, notes on Wiederkind's two Lulu plays (from which this film was drawn) would have been appreciated. They were censored in Germany and one wonders what sort of reception Pabst received. Also, we might have gained a better insight into the character of Lulu. The interpretive notes on the sleeve are questionable, portraying her as an evil seductress discarding one lover for the next when she's got what she wants. An equal interpretation is that of a woman unable to give what people demand of her; the seeds of her downfall sown in her very naivety, ultimately leading to her degradation and death. In short, she had no measure of the anguish she was causing.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Feb. 2006
Format: DVD
This is the only silent film I have seen (I have difficulty with them) that fits the medium so perfectly, spoken dialogue seems completely unnecessary. The fact that Wedekind’s “Lulu” is part of our literary and dramatic heritage, the fact we all know her from the plays, from Alban Berg’s opera and the film “The Blue Angel” undoubtedly helps.
Overwhelmingly however, it is the truly astounding and magnetic portrayal by Louise Brooks of this most fatale of femme fatales. In the midst of excellent acting and superb direction by the legendary German Director Georg Pabst she towers above everything, literally becoming the character.
To understand Louise Brooks achievement one must learn about the actress, the documentary on her life included on the DVD seems a good start. One learns that Louise was in fact a real life Lulu, thoughtless, wilful, promiscuous, captivating, highly intelligent, wayward to the degree of self destruction.
What a woman!
One of her biographies will soon be on my Amazon wish list.
Interestingly Brooks was Pabst first choice for the part, with Marlene Dietrich second. I agree with Pabst assessment when watching Blue Angel recently, Dietrich is good but lacks that final indomitable self centred detachment needed for the part.
If you find the Lulu character interesting, even if you hate silent films, give this a try. You also get a chance to become acquainted with the life of Louise Brooks.
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