Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Saturday Matinee - Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box (1929)

On Saturday Matinee, we showcase full-length films from or about the diesel era.

This week, we're showing the film that turned Louise Brooks into the flapper sex symbol we know today.

What you need to know about Pandora's Box

Pandora's Box stars Louise Brooks as Lulu, a hedonistic dancer and prostitute who's open sexuality has a disastrous effect on all who love her. Lulu's insouciant eroticism inspires lust and violence in those around her, dragging them headalong around downward spiral of misery and shame.

Pandora's Box is actually based on two plays, Earth's Spirit and Pandora's Box, written by the controversial German playwright Frank Wedekind. It is said he wrote the plays "with the deliberate intent of shocking his middle class audience by talking bluntly about the consequences of sex, violence, and hypocrisy." Austrian filmmaker Georg Wilhelm Pabst succeeded in doing the same in the film. By updating the time period, Pabst was able to make the tale relevant to the Roaring Twenties of Europe.

Why we chose Pandora's Box for Saturday Matinee

Although released in 1929, the movie is incredibly modern, daring in its use of sexuality and violence, and cutting edge in its inclusion of a lesbian countess (Alice Roberts) who also falls for Louise Brooks' Lulu.

Initially panned by critics, it was rediscovered in the 1950s, and modern critics call it "a cinematic masterpiece" thanks in part to Brooks' sensual performance as Lulu. Despite its initial failings, Pandora's Box catapulted our favorite "it" girl to international acclaim and made her 'the' icon of the Jazz Age.

Watch Pandora's Box (1929)

Photos of Louise Brooks

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