Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yesterday's screening

The TCM blog ( at ) had this to say about yesterday's George Eastman House screening of Diary of a Lost Girl.
"I’m filled with gratitude for a rare opportunity to see Louise Brooks on the big screen in Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), her second collaboration with G.W. Pabst after Pandora’s Box. That chance came along last night at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, where a packed Dryden theater was the setting for the seduction of an entire audience of diverse people by an eighty year old silent movie just last night. A crowd for Louise in Rochester is not that unusual. Thanks to the nurturing friendship she maintained with Eastman House curator James Card, Louise spent her final years in the city, a semi-recluse."

"It’s only some time after seeing this relatively simple story of a young girl’s initiation into the grim, class ridden world around her that the film seems to leave a mark. The sordid adults populating this lurid celluloid Weimar Republic use, abuse and judge young Thymiane Henning (Brooks) in this film. But those adults, with a few exceptions, are alternately appalling and amusing in a revolting, almost Heronymus Bosch way. There was surprisingly much laughter and, if I detected it correctly, actually hissing by audience members of the lechers and losers during this melodramatic movie–though never at the vibrantly suffering and ultimately triumphant Brooks, only her oppressors. The compelling direction of Pabst conveys so much about the people and the world they live in with just a few brief scenes, very few titles, and, of course, the vital quality of Louise Brooks‘ presence on film, which reverberates in memory long after the end. Her languid, natural dancer’s grace is celebrated throughout this film, particularly noticable in one brief moment of film when we don’t even know for sure that we are looking at her–she’s simply a flying figure running away from the camera across a beach, her lithe feet barely touching the sand. Yet, her intense physicality is balanced by something magnetic and unknowable inside her, which comes through most forcefully in her small, dark eyes. As Barry Paris, the author of Louise Brooks (Knopf) wrote in 1989, “With the advent of talkies, her name would largely dsappear, but her face would not: a girl in a Prince Valiant bob, with electrifying eyes that drilled straight to the heart from the silent screen and left you weak when you met their gaze. Eyes that beckoned not so much ‘come hither’ as ‘I’ll come to you.’” Her ability to communicate didn’t need words, though she wrote well, but, on film, particularly with Pabst, they were superfluous to her art. One thing I know for sure. Seeing Louise Brooks on a small home screen doesn’t compare with the effect she can still have on an audience in 2008."

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