Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 1h 49m
Almost ninety years after its release, few other silent German melodramas can claim to have endured as well as this one by, while remaining so charged and penetrating.
Adapted by G W Pabst from two ground-breakingly sordid plays by Frank Wedekind, the film follows Lulu (Louise Brooks), a beautiful and amoral dancer of uncertain origin who seduces her way around 19th century Germany, following no specific plan and disregarding the consequences. Ruining a high society doctor, attracting a lesbian countess, and encountering Jack the Ripper count among her most notable accomplishments, as her unorthodox lifestyle comes to destroy everyone in the immediate vicinity, herself included.
Only 23 at the time of filming, Brooks shines among a grotesquerie of German sets and character actors, combining strikingly otherworldly beauty with a recognisably human impulsiveness and sexual hunger.
"She regards us from the screen as if the screen were not there; she casts away the artifice of film and invites us to play with her" (Roger Ebert).
Its cynical view of society and its sexuality continues to enthral.
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