Monday, August 31, 2009

Lulu in the Philippines

The Philippine Daily Inquirer ran an insightful, and somewhat lengthy article about a recent production of Lulu (the Frank Wedekind play) on their website. And of course, Louise Brooks plays a significant role in the article's analysis of the play and the Philippine production. Check it out here.

The article by Gibbs Cadiz, "Femme too fatale in Dulaang UP’s Lulu," notes "The Lulu plays, with their fervid glorification of a woman's sexual rapaciousness and the devastation it wreaks on the world around her, has served as an Ur-text in the evolution of the iconic femme fatale in popular culture -- from Marlene Dietrich's Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel to Barbara Stanwyck's Double Indemnity (notice the hommage in names?), from Hitchcock's gallery of deadly blondes to the Botticelli-tressed Glenn Close as the terrifying Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction."

Cadiz adds, "They all owe a debt to Lulu more specifically to her now-celebrated cinematic embodiment, the Lulu of American actress Louise Brooks in German director G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box."

Cadiz continues, and remains focused on Brooks: "While seemingly unmoored from motivational underpinnings, Lulu's anarchic, iconoclastic nature did have a purpose: It was the shattering blast of modernity Wedekind had lobbed at fin-de-siècle Germany, with its smothering rubric of social, economic and psychosexual conventions -- the real aim of his subversive dramaturgy."

"Pabst reportedly auditioned numerous women, including Dietrich, before settling on Brooks for his Lulu. The smoldering Dietrich (25 at that time to Brooks’ 21) was rejected because, as Pabst explained, her overripe sexuality, her all-too-seductive look threatened to turn Pandora’s Box into a 'burlesque.'"

"Pabst wanted an actress who combined allure and innocence, sensuality and grace. When he found Brooks, he photographed her exactly as Wedekind had conjured Lulu: an ethereal presence, seemingly separate from the common humanity around her, her stunning face -- that otherworldly gaze -- and lithe figure always more luminous, the light more alive in her presence."

While I don't think the author gets it completely right, there are some interesting points made in the article. Check out the Philippine perspective.

1 comment:

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