Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Anyone who goes through life without seeing Louise Brooks on film, I feel sorry for them"

There is an interview with Peter Kobel, author of the just released, beautifully illustrated book, "Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture," appears in the current issue of The Express, a weekly publication of the Washington Post. Kobel discusses the impetus of his writing the book, as well as various aspects of silent film. He also briefly discusses Louise Brooks and Pandora's Box.
» EXPRESS: It seems that there was a lot of very challenging filmmaking, what we now call adult themes, even though we make the mistake of thinking of our ancestors as childlike and simple.
» KOBEL: They dealt with all kinds of serious subjects and in most cases, in the case of Hollywood films, vice would be punished. In Europe — "Pandora's Box" is actually a good example. In the end of "Pandora's Box," Lulu is killed by Jack the Ripper, but that is not like the punishment of vice; it's just something that happened. It's not like some god or force is punishing her — it's just this tragic arc of her life. But the American version has to end with her working for the Salvation Army.
Anyone who hasn't gotten into silent film at all has this impression that it's Victorian, that it's melodrama, that it's 30-year-old women in pigtails trying to look like teenagers. There is that. But there's so much really brilliant, thought-provoking, daring stuff happening.
That's the biggest prejudice you have to get people past. Some people will never get past it. ... Anyone who goes through life without seeing Louise Brooks on film, I feel sorry for them.
There will be a series of film screenings in celebration of the book in Washington D.C. (see the link at the bottom of the interview for details). And as well, the book will be celebrated at the December 1st San Francisco Silent Film Festival screening at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. I am certainly looking forward to that.

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