Diary of a Lost Girl (German, 1929):
(Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen)

After the ecstatic enshrinement of female sexuality (mated with the pull of death) that capped Pandora's Box, director G.W. Pabst and leading lady Louise Brooks could only go back to square one. Accordingly, their follow-up is a far more conventional piece of Weimar debauchery ("With a little more love, no one on this earth would ever be lost" is the fadeout homily). Again navigating his Kansas-born muse through a green sea of Teutonic perversity, Pabst pits Brooks as the daughter of moneyed pharmacist Josef Rovenský, first spotted sacking the latest entry in a string of impregnated maids. It isn't long before Brooks' introductory sheer whites turn sullied -- more sinned against than sinning, she hops from raped ingénue to reformatory cellmate to slinky goodtime gal to tragic heiress to nobleman's protégé. Despite generous doses of stylized depravity (a brothel owner's grandmotherly features splayed by the lens, the wacky teaming of Andrews Engelmann and Valeska Gert as zesty schoolhouse pervs), the film rarely escalates to the fevered peaks of Pandora: in his last silent, Pabst already seems to be ditching oneiric luridness for the oatmealy humanism of Westfront 1918 and Kameradschaft. Brooks' luster, however, shimmers on -- whether reacting to her baby's death, getting her first taste of champagne or bumping into dad while being raffled off at a racuous bacchanalia, she instinctively understands how her character's reveries exult her as a woman even as they degrade her as a lady. From a novel by Margarete Böhme. With André Roanne, Fritz Rasp, Vera Pawlowa, and Franziska Kinz. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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