(aka 'Pandora's Box' or 'Lulu' or 'The Box of Pandora')

Directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Germany 1929

 

  One of the masters of early German cinema, G. W. Pabst had an innate talent for discovering actresses (including Greta Garbo). And perhaps none of his female stars shone brighter than Kansas native and onetime Ziegfeld girl Louise Brooks, whose legendary persona was defined by Pabst's lurid, controversial melodrama Pandora's Box. Sensationally modern, the film follows the downward spiral of the fiery, brash, yet innocent showgirl Lulu, whose sexual vivacity has a devastating effect on everyone she comes in contact with. Daring and stylish, Pandora's Box is one of silent cinema's great masterworks and a testament to Brooks's dazzling individuality...

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 9th, 1929

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DVD Review: Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 358 - Region 1 - NTSC

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without any extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Runtime 2:10:56 
Video 1.18:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.34 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio Silent with 4 musical scores - main with 5.1 option., rest all 2.0.  
Subtitles German intertitles - subs- English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.18:1

Edition Details:

• Four musical scores, each offering its own interpretation of the film (see below)
• Audio commentary by film scholars Thomas Elsaesser and Mary Ann Doane
• Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu (1998), a 60-minute documentary by Hugh Munro Neeley
• Lulu in Berlin (1971), a rare, 48-minute interview with Louise Brooks by documentarian Richard Leacock and Susan Steinberg Woll
• Interviews with Leacock, about Brooks, and Michael Pabst the director's son
• Stills gallery
• A 98-page book featuring Kenneth Tynan's 1979 essay "The Girl in the Black Helmet," an article by Louise Brooks on her relationship with Pabst, and a new essay by critic J. Hoberman  

DVD Release Date: November 28th, 2006

Packaging - see image below
Chapters: 17

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: the actual cover differs from the one shown presently on Amazon.

Two items - firstly, this image is again pictureboxed (see our description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). Secondly - this image exhibits 'combing or 'trailing' - which I understand is a process of the frame rate conversion (from European silent to current NTSC) - see last capture as an example. There is some minor contrast flickering and anticipated damage mostly in the form of light to moderate scratches and some frames with nitrate deterioration (see 2nd last capture as sample). The Criterion is described as 'restored high-definition digital transfer of the definitive Munich Film Museum restoration'. We have compared 3 frames of the new Criterion release to the Second Sight (UK- PAL) DVD that came out in 2002 (it shares the 'combing' anomaly). Although I don't see significant improvement in terms of detail - the Criterion has approx. 12% more information at the bottom of the frame. The Criterion contrast is more pure black and white and it also shows marginally less damage (NOTE: 'Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and scratches were removed using the MTI Digital Restoration System').

The inherent film negative inferiorities don't take away from the magnificence of the presentation one bit in my opinion, plus I imagine this is the best you will ever see Pandora's Box look digitally.

Criterion offer 4 different scores to choose from while watching the film - a Gillian Anderson Orchestral Score presented in optional Dolby 5.1 surround and stereo mixes. The three other scores (Cabaret, Modern and Piano Improvisation) are presented in Dolby 2.0 stereo.

The commentary may be my favorite of the year - Thomas Elsaesser and Mary Ann Doane give their expert opinion in the same manner that a Tony Rayns or Robert Short might echo significant information in a matter-of-fact manner. They work perfectly together although rarely comment on the same segment. When they do they support each other with salient comments. Elsaesser discusses the relationship between literature and the cinema. Doane shares some of her expert knowledge of Louise Brooks and the film narrative. I will be listening to this multiple (more) times.

There is a 2nd disc of supplements including a 60-minute documentary by Hugh Munro Neeley entitled Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu (1998). There is a rare, 48-minute interview with Louise Brooks by documentarian Richard Leacock and Susan Steinberg Woll from 1971. Further interviews are included with with Leacock, about Brooks, and Michael Pabst the director's son. There is a stills gallery with many images of Brooks. Finally there is substantial A 98-page book with photos and featuring Kenneth Tynan's 1979 essay "The Girl in the Black Helmet," an article by Louise Brooks on her relationship with Pabst, and a new essay by critic J. Hoberman.  

Pandora's Box is recognized as one of the mainstays of German cinema's Weimar period along with Metropolis, The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari and The Blue Angel. Its unique place in history is exemplified by its star, Louise Brooks, and her timeless eroticism (from a relatively brief career) that carries a legendary status even 70 years later. Essential cinema folks - no question about that. Criterion have done it again and given us a beautiful package worthy of the films esteemed place in cinema history. This is DVD at its pinnacle. Strongly recommended!

Gary W. Tooze

 

 


Criterion Package

 


DVD Menus


Disc 2

 

The Scores

 

 

NOTE: The Gillian Anderson Orchestral Score is presented in optional Dolby 5.1 surround and stereo mixes. The three other scores are presented in Dolby 2.0 stereo.

 


Subtitle Sample

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 


(Second Sight - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Second Sight - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Second Sight - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 


Example of frame with deterioration damage...
 

 

 


Example of combing...
 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 358 - Region 1 - NTSC

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without any extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.




 

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