Diary of a Lost Girl
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Diary of a Lost Girl represents the second and final work of one of the cinema's most compelling collaborations: G.W. Pabst and Louise Brooks. Together with Pandora's Box (1928), Diary confirmed Pabst's artistry as one of the great directors of the silent period and established Brooks as an "actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparalleled in screen history" (Kevin Brownlow, The Parade's Gone By). Brooks, in a delicately restrained performance, plays the naive daughter of a prosperous pharmacist. Shy and faunlike, the wide-eyed innocent is made pregnant by her father's young assistant. To preserve family honor, she is sent to a repressive reform school from which she eventually escapes. Penniless and homeless, she is directed to a brothel where she becomes liberated and lives for the moment with radiant physical abandon. This Kino on Video version of Diary of a Lost Girl has been mastered from a new restoration of the film made by a group of European archives (see insert card) which adds approximately nine minutes of previously censored footage never seen in the United States. An evocative new score has been added by Joseph Turrin.
The mystique and stunning beauty of Louise Brooks are on glorious display in Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), Brooks's second historic collaboration (after Pandora's Box) with director G.W. Pabst. In a restrained performance that a lesser actress would've taken over the top, Brooks strikes a resonant note of innocence, tenacity, and worldliness as Thymian, the idealistic daughter of an unscrupulous pharmacist, who is raped by her father's lecherous assistant. Forced to leave her child with a midwife, she escapes from a hellish reform school and is drawn into a brothel as if her fate were predetermined. Pabst tells her story (from Margurethe Bohme's novel) with lurid flourishes, especially in his encouragement of leering, grotesque performances from Thymian's ruthless exploiters. Mature even by modern standards, this lurid melodrama spans a full spectrum of emotions, expressed with subtle nuance by Brooks, who casts her spell in close-ups that will take your breath away. --Jeff ShannonSee all Editorial Reviews
- Newly remastered from a recently restored 35mm print, including 10 minutes of rarely seen footage
- Includes complete sound short subject: Windy Riley Goes Hollywood (1931), starring Louise Brooks and directed by Fatty Arbuckle under an alias
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The 2001 edition, in my opinion, has a sharper picture, clearer sound, and much better soundtrack music. Joseph Turrin's full orchestra music in the 2001 edition is beautiful, lush, and fits in perfectly with the film. The piano music in the blu-ray edition is okay, but is sometimes annoying and distracting
The picture quality in the blu-ray edition is my biggest disappointment. The picture is often soft without much high definition, while the 2001 edition oftentimes has a much sharper picture. And the Louise Brooks short subject "Windy Riley Goes Hollywood" is a much better print in the 2001 edition than the one used in the blu-ray edition.
I know that trying to present blu-ray editions of silent films from the 1920's can be very problematic, and I applaud any company such as Kino and the Criterion Collection for continuing to make available these wonderful films from the silent era. And I will continue to keep purchasing blu-ray editions of silent films as they are released. I just wish this classic Louise Brooks film in blu-ray had been better.
Louise Brooks is charismatic and charming, the acting is great all around. I find the story intriguing enough because there wasn't much they could portray in the silent era, either blatant comedies or dramas of this nature.
Highly enjoyable none the less.
For those not in the know, Louise Brooks was the ultimate flapper girl of the 1920s. She was probably more famous for her haircut, beauty, and lifestyle than her films. But her film legacy is firmly established by two German films she made after leaving Hollywood briefly - Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, both by G.W. Pabst (one of the legendary silent film directors). Both films, if you can find them, are absolute classics. The German expressionist style has rarely been more beautifully captured than in Pandora's Box (Hitchcock used this style too in a lot of his early black/white films). And I was lucky enough to find a beat-up VHS copy of Diary. If you like silent films, you can't go wrong with this film either! The imagery is stunning, Louise Brooks looks gorgeous and gives a moving performance a young lady who, having lost her virtue, is consequently shunned by society and has to learn to care for herself. I don't like to give away plots, so that's all I'll say, but I am looking forward to owning this film on DVD! Highly recommended!
She has a screen presence that's hard to describe. Aside from her obvious beauty she transmits something in her eyes that jumps across three quarters of a century and confronts you as a woman of contemporary society. Very little of the usual silent film hand-wringing and eyelash-batting takes place here, instead she draws us in with subtlety, thankfully at the hands of a great director.
The camerawork is genuinely moving, genuinely beautiful in many ways. A few times I found myself hitting the pause button to admire a still frame, worthy of hanging in a gallery on its own and out of context.
A perfect introduction to Pandora's Box, which will knock you out of your chair.