Friday, January 31, 2014

What's missing from Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema

February will seen the launch of Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema. It is a 21 film salute to the best movies from Poland. Unfortunately, there are no silent films among the many  exceptional films which make-up the program.

Had there been, I would suggest a 1929 Polish silent called Mocny Czlowiek (A Strong Man). It was directed by Henryk Szaro (1900 – 1942), a screenwriter and theater and film director. Born Henoch Szapiro to a Jewish family, Szaro was a leading Polish director of the late 1920s and 1930s. He was killed in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, after being pulled out of his apartment and shot in the streets. Something of a prodigy, Szaro was only 29 when he directed Mocny Czlowiek. It was his 7th film.

Like many other Polish movies that disappeared during World War II, Mocny Czlowiek was long considered lost until a copy was found in Belgium in 1997. Based on a 1912 novel by Stanislaw Przybyszewski (a Dostoevskian writer known as “the discoverer of the human naked soul”), Mocny Czlowiek tells the story of a mediocre journalist who, dreaming of fame and glory, leads his ill friend, a far more talented writer, to an early death in order to steal his unpublished manuscript.

The film is remarkable for many reasons. What stands out is its contemporary sensibility, especially its moral relativity, drug use, and casual acceptance of criminal behavior. Also striking is its vigorous film narrative brought about through the use of dynamic camera movement, montage, and the use of dissolves and double and triple exposures. For good reason, this Polish silent film has been compared to the best German and Soviet movies of silent era. According to IMdb, "Interviewed after the film's premiere, director Henryk Szaro said he had shot about five hours of footage. Less than eighty minutes made it into the final cut. All deleted scenes are now lost and probably do not exist anymore." That's is unfortunate, because this  brilliant film captures a gone world.

If you like Pandora's Box and film from Weimar Germany, chances are you will like Mocny Czlowiek. It is a film which seeps into the dark recesses of your heart.

Like Poland, which was situated between two dominant political and military powers, this extraordinary Polish production shows the influence of both the German and Russian silent cinema -- though it stands firmly on its own. (Interestingly, the film's lead was played by the Ukranian-born Russian actor Gregori Chmara, who was married to one-time Lulu Asta Nielsen; his career ran from 1915 to 1971.) Szaro's drama of individual cruelty, desire and weakness was released on DVD in Europe in 2006 with a soundtrack written and recorded by three contemporary Polish composers.

Embedded below is a 3 minute "run through" of the film with its contemporary musical soundtrack.

If you like what you see, and I think you will, follow this YouTube link to watch the entire 78 minute film on YouTube. It is available there in nine parts.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Louise Brooks in a scene from Pandora's Box

Louise Brooks as Lulu - from the 1929 film Pandora's Box, directed by G.W. Pabst.The film is being shown in Luxembourg next week. See previous post.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Louise Brooks stars in Pandora's Box in Luxembourg

Pandora's Box (1929), starring Louise Brooks, will be shown in Luxembourg on February 4th. Here is the write-up from the venue, Philharmonie, place de l’Europe, Luxembourg-Kirchberg.

"The Ensemble Kontraste from Germany performs its score for Pandora’s Box at the Philharmonie. 

With her iconic bob haircut and sultry smile, Louise Brooks became an icon late in life--it was only in the 1950s when her work was rediscovered by French film critics and then later she was adopted as a symbol of sexual freedom by the gay and lesbian community.

The latter canonisation may well have been thanks to her performance in Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s 1929 silent classic Die Büchse der Pandora, in which she plays Lulu, whose lack of inhibitions bring ruin and tragedy to all, including herself. The film is also one of the first to portray a lesbian (played by Alice Roberts).

The great critic Roger Ebert best described Brooks’ performance in the film when he wrote that 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.”

However, critics at the time of the film’s release were generally less enthused and some even said Brooks was unattractive. It is now considered one of the greats of German silent cinema.

It is screened at the Philharmonie with live music from the Ensemble Kontraste, conducted by Frank Strobel and playing a score especially composed for the film by Peer Raben."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Louise Brooks in a scene from Prix de Beauté

Louise Brooks in a scene from Prix de Beauté (1930). Beautiful you are....

Monday, January 27, 2014

Louise Brooks :: Timelock :: Louise Brooks

Louise Brooks :: T.i.m.e.l.o.c.k. :: Louise Brooks

Louise Brooks :: T.i.m.e.l.o.c.k. :: Louise Brooks
Released January 1, 1992
More at

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Two screenings of Pandora's Box with Louise Brooks

Pandora's Box is a silent film that just won't go away.

Largely panned when it debuted in 1929, this German-made film starring Louise Brooks has experienced a decades-long comeback and is now considered one of great films of the silent era. These days, its shown more often than many of the more acclaimed films of its time.

Two screenings of Pandora's Box will take place in the coming days. The film will shown in Toronto, Canada on Sunday, January 26th at the Revue Cinema. And on Monday, January 27th, Pandora's Box will be screened at The Paramount Theater in Seattle.

Directed by G.W. Pabst, Pandora’s Box tells the story of Lulu (played by Brooks), a lovely and somewhat petulant show-girl whose flirtations with members of each sex lead to tragic results. Despite having appeared in 23 other films – some of them quite good, Lulu is the role for which Brooks is best known today.

Others in the 109 minute film include acclaimed German stage star Fritz Kortner, as Dr. Schon, a respected businessman, and Francis Lederer, a dashing young actor who plays Schon's son. Both Schon's fall under Lulu's spell.

Lulu, a iconic character brought into the world by the German dramatist Frank Wedekind, has been described as a femme fatale, but in fact, she is a kind of innocent. As Brooks' biographer Barry Paris put it, her “sinless sexuality hypnotizes and destroys the weak, lustful men around her.” . . . And not just men. Lulu’s sexual magnetism knows few bounds, and this once controversial and censored film features what is described as the cinema's first lesbian. The Countess Geschwitz, covertly in love with Lulu, is played by Alice Roberts.

Coiffed in her signature black bob, Brooks inhabited her character thoroughly and effectively. Some say she lived it. The resulting performance in Pandora's Box, called "devastating" by contemporary critics, has become the stuff of legend.

The Toronto screening is part of Silent Sundays series, now in its fifth season; founded by journalist Eric Veillette, the Canadian series is curated by media archivist Alicia Fletcher. In Toronto, Pandora's Box will feature live piano accompaniment by William O’Meara.

The Seattle screening is part of the Seattle Theater Group's series Trader Joe's Silent Movie Mondays. The film is a special pick by the Seattle International Film Festival and their Women in Cinema Festival. In Seattle, Pandora's Box will feature Jim Riggs on the Paramount's Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. A CineClub discussion led by Beth Barrett, SIFF's Director of Programming, follows the screening.

Why these screenings, and why now?

It may be the growing public and media interest in the silent film era in the wake of the acclaim given The Artist and Hugo (the latter contains a shout-out to Brooks). Brooks herself was the subject of a recent best selling novel by Laura Moriarty, The Chaperone. It is in development as a major motion picture.

Or, it may be the actress' own story – the story of her rise and fall and reemergence – not only within the annals of film history but within popular culture and the even larger realm of public awareness. When Barry Paris wrote his outstanding 1989 biography of the actress, he originally titled it Louise Brooks: Her Life, Death and Resurrection. That title suggests something extraordinary, something even mythic.

If you attend either of these events, please leave your impressions in the comments field....

Friday, January 24, 2014

Louise Brooks Encyclopedia: Emil Coleman

Welcome to a new feature of the Louise Brooks Society blog - the Louise Brooks Encyclopedia. The first entry is devoted to bandleader Emil Coleman. In 1935, Coleman and his Orchestra shared the bill with Brooks & Dario in the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Who was Emil Coleman?

As early as 1917, the Russian-born pianist was performing in New York City on the third floor of Reisenweber's restaurant, upstairs from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band on the second floor and Gus Edwards on the first floor in a coming together of musicians regarded as the musical beginning of the Jazz Age in the Big Apple.

Starting in 1918, Coleman would lead one of the most popular dance bands in New York, first at the Montmartre Hotel (where Gloria Vanderbilt saw him) and then over the years at the Riviera, Central Park Casino (where he would be replaced by Eddie Duchin), Club Lido, St. Regis (in the King Cole Room, featuring Kay Thompson), Trocadero, Mocambo, and the famed Waldorf-Astoria, where he was a fixture.

Adapting to changing musical styles, the portly, balding Coleman developed the "medley" form of dance band repertoire emulated by other society orchestras. He played the Charleston, Tango, and Rumba, along with big band swing. He also performed on the radio, and at hundreds of debutante balls and social galas. Between 1923 and 1934, Coleman's various hotel orchestras registered 12 hits on the national charts on the Vocalion, Brunswick and Colombia labels. Among them were "Little Man, You've had a Busy Day," which peaked at #2 in 1934, and "What Is There to Say?" from the Ziegfeld Follies of 1934. Though his sound was sweet, Coleman's recordings were appreciated and collected by many, including even Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner.

Coleman's filmed appearances include musical shorts in the 1930's and 1940s, and a television appearance on the Arthur Murray Party show in the early 1950s. In later years, Coleman continued to record and perform, issuing the "Walter Winchell Rumba" in 1952, and backing up Eddie Fisher's comeback at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1959. Coleman's last vinyl LP was Emil Coleman Lights Up ... The Plaza on Phillips.

Not much is known about the other orchestra noted on the ad, the George Sterney Orchestra, except that they too played on the radio in the 1930s and 1940s. I haven't found any recordings by them.

Know anything else about Emil Coleman? Please post in the comments!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Louise Brooks in a Swedish cafe

Image of Louise Brooks displayed at Cafe UB in Sweden. Twitter pic image via Kristian Nilsson.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pandora's Box screens in Seattle, Washington on Jan 27

STG Presents
Featuring Jim Riggs on the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ
Monday, January 27, 2014
Doors at 6:00 pm / Show at 7:00 pm
The Paramount Theatre
911 Pine Street, Seattle, WA 98101
Trader Joe's Silent Movie Mondays - Pandora's Box

To Purchase By Phone: 1-877-784-4849
General Admission Seating
$10 general public
$5 students and seniors
(not including fees)

STG Presents Trader Joe's Silent Movie Mondays - Pandora's Box featuring Jim Riggs on the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ at The Paramount Theatre on Monday, January 27, 2014.

"The second film in our ADORED & RESTORED series is PANDORA'S BOX (1929), directed by Austrian filmmaker G.W. Pabst and starring Louise Brooks, is a German dramatic silent based on Frank Wedekind's "Lulu" plays. Pabst searched for months for an actress to play Lulu and hired her as the only American and the featured star of the film. Brooks' portrayal of a seductive, thoughtless young woman, whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature bring ruin to herself and those who love her, although initially unappreciated, eventually made the actress a star."

A special pick by the Seattle International Film Festival and their Women in Cinema Festival.
CineClub discussion led by Beth Barrett, SIFF's Director of Programming Running Time: 109 Minutes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pandora's Box screens in Toronto, Canada on Jan 26

Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks, will screen in Toronto, Canada on Sunday January 26th at the Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles Avenue). More info here. Event Time(s):4:15 p.m. Website: Costs: Range:$10 - $19

Pandora’s Box
Dir. G.W. Pabst (1929)
Starring Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, and Francis Lederer
109 mins.

It doesn’t really get better than Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box, does it? Brooks fled Hollywood and escaped to the German film industry to seal her fate as an indelible force in silent film, forever to be remembered as the sensual, yet naïve; unintentionally vampish and victimized Lulu. Under the direction of master G.W. Pabst, the film’s cinematography, costumes, and narration are almost unparalleled in the medium. In short: Pandora’s Box is a masterpiece and Louise Brooks is a legend here - visually, as well as in her acting style. Her realism was so ahead of her time that audiences and critics rejected her; a dismissal that history has, luckily for us, rectified. Flappers at heart unite; this is a Silent Sundays not to be missed!

Featuring live piano accompaniment by William O’Meara.

Silent Sundays, now in its fifth season, is curated by media archivist Alicia Fletcher and was founded by journalist Eric Veillette.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Feminine beauty as blinding as ten galaxial suns

"Louise Brooks is the only woman who had the ability to transfigure no matter what film into a masterpiece. The poetry of Louise is the great poetry of rare loves, of magnetism, of tension, of feminine beauty as blinding as ten galaxial suns. She is much more than a myth, she is a magical presence, a real phantom, the magnetism of the cinema." 

So said Ado Kyrou (1923-1985), a Greek-born filmmaker, writer, critic and associate of the Surrealists long resident in France. Kyrou was a contributor to the French film journal Positif, and the author of Amour - érotisme & cinéma (1957) and Le Surréalisme Au Cinéma (1963).

Sunday, January 19, 2014

All Movies Love the Moon Trailer

Louise Brooks is pictured in this trailer for a forthcoming book, Gregory Robinson's All Movies Love the Moon: Prose Poems on Silent Film, to be published by Rose Metal Press in March 2014. The book will be for sale at,, and Thanx to writer Lisa K. Buchanan for pointing me to this video.

About the book from the publisher: Anyone who watches silent movies will notice how often crashes occur—trains, cars, and people constantly collide and drama or comedy ensues. Gregory Robinson's All Movies Love the Moon is also a collision, a theater where prose, poetry, images, and history meet in an orchestrated accident. The result is a film textbook gone awry, a collection of linked prose poems and images tracing silent cinema's relationship with words—the bygone age of title cards. The reel begins with early experiments in storytelling, such as Méliès' A Trip to the Moon and Edison's The European Rest Cure, and ends with the full-length features that contested the transition to talkies. Of course, anyone seeking an accurate account of silent movies will not find it here. Through Robinson's captivating anecdotes, imaginings, and original artwork, the beauty of silent movies persists and expands. Like the lovely grainy films of the 1910s and 20s, All Movies Love the Moon uses forgotten stills, projected text, and hazy frames to bring an old era into new focus. Here, movies that are lost or fading serve as points of origin, places to begin.

Sunday, March 16
Gregory Robinson reading from All Movies Love the Moon at the Marble Room Reading Series at 4:00 pm. Free and open to the public

The Marble Room Reading Series
The Parlor
1434 N. Western Ave., Chicago, Illinois

Friday, April 11
Gregory Robinson reading from All Movies Love the Moon at the Caffeine Corridor Poetry Series at 7:00 pm. Free and open to the public.

The Caffiene Corridor Series
9 The Gallery
1229 Grand Ave., Phoenix, Arizona

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Benevolent Siren - Remembering Louise Brooks (iconic silent film beauty)

Book trailer from Daily Motion: "Louise Brooks endures as one of silent film's most charismatic and contemporary actresses. Immortalized in Pandora's Box, she left a disinterested Hollywood to suffer years of hardship until finding a new career as an author. Later in her life, an admiring 20-year old managed to pry a chink into the armor of the reclusive actress, establishing a friendship that revealed a hidden, gentler side. Their friendship is lovingly remembered in Benevolent Siren. Available for iPad at and for Kindle at" Check it out.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Quintessentially quintessential Louise Brooks

Quintessentially quintessential . . . .

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sammy Tramp sings "Mack The Knife"

Sammich the Tramp (also known as Sammy Tramp) is a multi-talented, Chaplinesque perfomer. She is Creator/Founder at Sammy Tramp's Traveling Flicker Factory and Artistic Director/Producer at The Beggar's Carnivale.

I first became acquainted with this special performer a few years back when she was performing as Lulu (see blurry snapshot from 2006!) in "Lulu: a black and white silent play," a live stage adaption without dialogue of G.W. Pabst's film of Frank Wedekind's Pandora's Box. It was terrefic. The Louise Brooks Society encourages everyone to check out Sammy Tramp's various webpages, or better yet, check out one of her live performances. She is based in St. Louis, Missouri but travels all around.

Here's the latest from Sammy Tramp. Sammy puts down the kazoo and uses her mouth to sing "Mack The Knife." Originally written by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill for The Three Penny Opera and made famous by Bobby Darin.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

English advertisement features Louise Brooks

Nick Wrigley sent word that this newspaper advertisement from Bolton, Lancashire, England has long featured Louise Brooks.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Documentary About the Great Writers Who Sat at the Algonquin Round Table

Barry Paris' swonderful biography of Louise Brooks details the time the then 17 year old actress lived at the famous Algonquin Hotel in New York City. The building, located at 59 West 44th Street in Manhattan, has been designated as a New York City Historic Landmark.

The 174-room hote, opened in 1902, was originally conceived as a residential hotel but was quickly converted to a traditional lodging establishment. Its first manager-owner, Frank Case (with whom Louise Brooks was acquianted), established many of the hotel's best-known traditions. Perhaps its best-known tradition is hosting literary and theatrical notables, most prominently the members of the Algonquin Round Table.

In June 1919, the hotel became the site of daily meetings of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of journalists, authors, publicists, artists and actors who gathered to exchange bon mots over lunch in the main dining room. The group met almost daily for the better part of ten years. Some of the core members of this "Vicious Circle" included Herman J. Mankiewicz, Franklin P. Adams, Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Jane Grant, Ruth Hale, George S. Kaufman, Neysa McMein, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Robert E. Sherwood, Alexander Woollcott and others.

Brooks never happened to meet Dorthy Parker, according to the Barry Paris biography, but she did report seeing her and other members of the vicious circle at the hotel. "I watched Robert Sherwood and Dorothy Parker and a lot of other people jabbering and waving their hands at the Round Table, wondering what made them famous." Benchley was a friend, and Sherwood reviewed Brooks' films in the pages of Life magazine a few years ago. Brooks was also friendly with Mankiewicz.

The Ten Year Lunch is an award winning documentary about the hotel and the famous writers who hung out there. It is informative and fun. Check it out.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Louise Brooks inspired song, "Hopeless"

Here are two version of the Louise Brooks inspired song, "Hopeless." The first is a video (by Stuart Pound) to a recording by the UK band Evangelista. The song dates from the 1990's, and is a tribute to Louise Brooks. The starting point for "Hopeless" is a song of the same title recorded by Evangelista. The song is about an impossible love for Louise Brooks, impossible because she died in 1984.

Hopeless from Stuart Pound on Vimeo.

The second version is a live recording by the Great Admirers of the "Evangelista cult classic."
The video was shot at the Seven Stars pub in Bristol, England on a Sunday afternoon, June 22, 2008.
Sound by Alfie Kingston. Long live Lulu!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Louise Brooks - Digital painting by Jeff Stahl

Spotted this on YouTube. This is nifty: Louise Brooks digital painting by Jeff Stahl. Time lapse digital speed painting of Louise Brooks done in Photoshop CS5 with Wacom tablets Cintiq 12wx and Intuos 4L. Real time: 1h16min. Music: "The Russian Princess" by Jeff Stahl, track available here:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cool pic of the day: Louise Brooks

Cool pic of the day: the one and only Louise Brooks

Monday, January 6, 2014

The mystery of photographer John de Mirjian

Perhaps you can help solve a small mystery?

In the 1920's, John de Mirjian was a well known photographer working in New York City. During his brief six year career, he photographed many leading Broadway entertainers, as well as many showgirls. To the right is a pleasant example of his work. He specialized in portraiture of women, and notably in what was then considered risque imagery. [The image to the left, typical of de Mirjian's work, is of Rose Marie Haynes, a performer with the Earl Carroll "Vanities."]

Today, de Mirjian is best remembered for the lawsuit brought against him by Louise Brooks. In late 1925, Brooks sued De Mirjian's to prevent publication of semi-nude images of the then up-and-coming actress. The suit made the news, and a series of stories appeared in papers around the country.

Those stories, such as "Follies Girl, Now in Films, Shocked by Own Pictures" and "Follies Girl Sues to Supress Her Very Artistic Photographs," only featured the most discrete images by de Mirjian.

John de Mirjian's life ended in September of 1928 when the car he was driving on Long Island crashed. According to press accounts, the playboy photographer was speeding along at 70 miles per hour when he lost control and overturned his automobile, a Peerless roadster. Roads were reported to have been slick in the greater NYC area on the day the accident took place. It wasn't known where de Mirjian was returning from, perhaps a party, as some newspapers reported. The woman in the car, an actress not his wife, at first claimed she was his half-sister. She was not. Her name was Gloria Christy.

The mystery is how old was John de Mirjian? Just about every newspaper in the greater New York City area carried a story on de Mirjian's death, with many putting the sensational news on the front page. Stories appeared in the New York Evening Post, Yonkers Statesman, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and elsewhere. I have read a handful of these newspaper accounts, and all but one reported his age. That's curious. Only the local Long-Islander newspaper stated de Mirjian was 30 years old.

There is little known about de Mirjian. When was he born? Where was he born? I tried doing a little genealogical research, but could find nothing. Perhaps someone more adept at researching historical records could find out. John De Mirjian's brother, with whom he operated a photo studio at 1595 Broadway in Manhattan, was named Arto. That's as much as I can find. Can you find more?

If you are interested in finding out more about John de Mirjian and his contemporaries, like M.I. Boris, Otto Dyar, and Eugene Robert Richee (all of who photographed Louise Brooks on more than one occasion), be sure and check out David Shields' outstanding new book, Still: American Silent Motion Picture Photography (University Of Chicago Press). 


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Downton Abbey and Louise Brooks

With Downton Abbey about to begin its fourth season, it is worth noting some of the surprising connections between the popular PBS television show and Louise Brooks. The popular star, known for her distinctive bob hair style, was just beginning her career as a dancer and actress in the silent film era.

Fans of the period drama, which is set in the first decades of the 20th century, may have noticed a scene where one of the downstairs help can be seen reading a vintage issue of Photoplay, the leading movie magazine of the time. Mabel Normand, one of the silent era's leading female stars, is on the cover.

The show's connection with the silent film era doesn't end there. The series also has some rather interesting ties to Louise Brooks.

In 2011, a handful of English writers were asked by the Guardian newspaper which books had most impressed them during the course of the year. The answer given by actor, novelist, screenwriter, director, Oscar winner and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes caused a bit of a stir, as the book he mentioned was first published in 1989. Fellowes' answer read:

"I suspect the book that has haunted me the most this year was the life of that queen of the silent screen, Louise Brooks: A Biography (University of Minnesota £17), by Barry Paris. I have seldom read so lyrical a tale of self-destruction. When she was a girl, my mother used to be mistaken for Louise Brooks and so I have always felt a sort of investment in her, but I was unprepared for this heartbreaking tale of what-might-have-been."

Fellowes' eloquent appreciation of Paris' acclaimed biography echoes the many superb reviews the book received when it was first published. UK novelist Angela Carter praised it, as did the Times Literary Supplement. The latter noted, "Louise Brooks seems to have had such a rare intelligence and humor that this is not a tale of tragedy but a study in fierce originality."

Might Fellowes be aware that Shirley MacLaine, one of the stars of Downton Abbey, is also a big fan of Louise Brooks? Over the years, MacLaine has said as much in interviews, all the while expressing interest in someday playing Brooks on screen.

Additionally, one of the other stars of Downton Abbey, Elizabeth McGovern, has a similar interest in the bobbed Brooks. After serving as the reader for the audio version of Laura Moriarty's 2012 novel, The Chaperone, McGovern snapped up the movie rights to the bestselling book, which tells a story centered around Brooks' time as an aspiring dancer with the Denishawn Dance company.

The Chaperone is in development with Fox Searchlight, with Fellowes set to pen the script, McGovern set to play the title character, and McGovern's husband, Simon Curtis, set to direct. Shirley MacLaine would be a great choice to play Louise Brooks' mother, a key character in the early pages of The Chaperone.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Tiger Lillies CD 'Lulu - A Murder Ballad' coming in 2014

The new Tiger Lillies CD Lulu - A Murder Ballad is set for release in 2014, according the musical group's website. "In the new year The Tiger Lillies will premiere a new show 'Lulu - A Murder Ballad' which will tour in the UK. Inspired by the classic film Pandora's Box (starring Louise Brooks) and Berg's opera Lulu, the show features a whole new cycle of songs, stunning virtual sets by Mark Holthusen (who also created The Ancient Mariner with the band) and is produced by Opera North. Please check the TOUR section of the site for the dates. A CD of the music will be released in conjunction with the premiere of the show."

"The character of Lulu is one of the great creations of 20th Century fiction, and one of its most disturbing. Her unbridled sex appeal, her youth, and her self-destructiveness combine to make her dangerous, unpredictable and tragic. With the men (and the women) who circle her, Lulu’s journey from street prostitute to the toast of Society and back again, is told as a hypnotic and kaleidoscopic dance of death. Journey with her from Berlin to Paris and finally to the dark London streets of Jack The Ripper. 
The band’s flamboyant live performance is enhanced by large-scale virtual sets that create an immersive and richly atmospheric environment. Across 20 songs and interludes, the ballad of Lulu unfolds as an uncompromising musical and visual melodrama."
Written by Martyn Jacques.
Directed and Designed by Mark Holthusen.
Performed by The Tiger Lillies and Laura Caldow. Based on Frank Wedekind’s plays,
Earth Spirit (1895) and Pandora’s Box (1904)
Commissioned by Opera North Projects

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Louise Brooks-inspired album, Lulu In Suspension

Back in 2008, the French artist Olivia Louvel released Lulu In Suspension, an album inspired by Louise Brooks and her book Lulu in Hollywood. Louvel's album was released as a digipak CD on Optical Sound Records and Fine Arts, run by the French artist Pierre Belouin.

Louvel's music is something unusual. Louvel is a producer and performer, crafting electronic songs for laptop and voice. Initially trained in classical singing, she began to work as a singer for the renowned flying trapeze circus "Les Arts Sauts," performing in the air the Meredith Monk composition, "Madwoman’s vision." She toured with the circus for 3 years. From 1996 to 1999, she attended the National Superior Conservatory of Dramatic Arts of Paris, and graduated in 1999. She released her debut album, Luna Parc Hotel, in 2006.

Just recently, I became aware of Lulu In Suspension (more info here) and reached out to Louvel and Belouin, asking each about their interst in Louise Brooks. Here is what they wrote.


Many years ago I came across Louise Brooks' autobiographical book Lulu in Hollywood, a collection
of her essays which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I composed some tracks, taking an inspiration from the imaginary landscape it created in my mind,
and also more directly from the Georg Wilhelm Pabst film Pandora's Box. At times I tried to embody Louise herself, at other times, perhaps, a modern Lulu from Berlin ("Club Tanzerin") wandering  through to Chicago ("Let's go to Chicago") via Hollywood;  the first cinematic orchestral track ("Lulu a Hollywood") works as an overture to the album and becomes a kind of transposition from the  cabaret to the digital era.

I was an actress for a while. As a student at the national conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Paris, I was also familiar with Louise and her non-dramatic, non-theatrical approach, how she would do very little in front of the camera in contrast to her fellow actors who were seemingly emphasizing their traits and possibly over-acting. Even though quite a few people during this era were critical of her dramatic style, she had the intuition that in front of the camera less was more.

She was ahead of her time, anticipating how acting would evolve as a much more psychological art.
Louise had this kind of effortless attitude, careless, and she was stunning!

Why I am drawn to Louise?

Because of her multiple layers. Her wildness, her impertinence, her sensuality, her effortless beauty, effortless being but also her chaos. She is an icon of femininity.

In Lulu In Suspension,  I am at times, Louise, Lulu or simply me.

Olivia Louvel


15 years ago I saw my first Louise Brooks movie, Loulou (Pandora Box) by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, it
was broadcast on French TV at Christmas. I was completely amazed by the modernity and graphic
style of her face and expressions in this 1929 silent movie, so intense that she literally illuminated the screen! I have seen several films with Louise Brooks but this one was a kind of revelation.

At the same time, I was also really interested in another beauty called Betty Page. Later I learnt that Louise Brooks was an icon for the feminists and lesbians as she is referenced in Maria Beatty
experimental films.

As I was running my label Optical Sound, the French/ UK artist, Olivia Louvel, contacted me and submitted an album project called Lulu In Suspension. For me it was the perfect link between the
roaring twenties and the beginning of this century. Also the title contains the word "suspension"  which reminds me of bondage practice. All the tracks Olivia produced are deeply melancholic and strong with an electronic cabaret feel, delivering a real and intense homage to Louise Brooks'
career and spirit.

Pierre Belouin

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year from the Louise Brooks Society

Happy New Year from the Louise Brooks Society.
Powered By Blogger