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Lulu & Lola

Early German cinema produced some remarkable films. Here are two that were born toward the end of the roaring ’20s. This renaissance era allowed women to express their individuality, as well as their sexuality.

In Harlem of New York City, the blacks were finally being heard on an intellectual level through higher art forms like Jazz and poetry. It was a time of reflection and excess, which was felt in both America and Europe.

Pandora's Box

Pandora's Box

Georg Wilhelm Pabst cast and directed Louise Brooks in his silent masterpiece, Pandora’s Box in 1929. Her performance and his direction are nothing less than spectacular. Brooks’ character, Lulu is likened to the legend of Pandora’s Box in the film. She is irresistible to all, yet possessed by none. The film avoids moral judgement with a good dose of ambiguity. The story is merely allowed to unfold.

Lulu, although incidentally affected, does not feel the grief that others have placed on themselves due to her association. This is Louise Brooks’ finest hour, and she is exquisitely photographed in it. There are also a couple of great documentaries about Louise Brooks in the recently released Criterion DVD.

The Blue Angel

The Blue Angel

Josef von Sternberg directed The Blue Angel in 1930, which features Marlene Dietrich for the leading female role. Here the femme fatale also brings grief to her suitor, played by Emil Jannings.

Although Dietrich’s performance in The Blue Angel launched her into stardom, the film is equally (if not more) about Jannings’ role as a tragic figure. Marlene Dietrich’s singing and portrayal of Lola Lola is outstanding however, especially when considering that it is her first role in a film. The Blue Angel is an early sound film, with both German and English versions produced at the time. The KINO DVD release has both versions available, with subtitles.

Until next time, I hope you have a great viewing experience.  Comments are welcomed at cinespire@gmail.com.

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About the Author

Norbert made Murfreesboro, Tenn., his home in 1997. He conceived the Living Room Cinema column in 2006, and submits them regularly to the Murfreesboro Pulse. Aside from his love of films, Norbert is also an avid photographer. He is the very proud father of two, he beats on an old guitar, and plays a dicey game of Chess at best. Like Living Room Cinema at facebook.com/livingroomcinema.

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