Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
A tale of radical sexual freedom contrasted with a vision of pathologically decadent morality in Germany of the late 20s, Diary of a Lost Girl was G.W. Pabst’s last silent, and his second masterpiece with American actress Louise Brooks. Even more provocative in subject matter than the first (Pandora’s Box), and shot, like its predecessor, for the psychological and the ironic angle, Diary of a Lost Girl displays a new, almost documentary restraint.
The film was ruthlessly attacked by the censors and suffered merciless cuts everywhere it was shown. This restoration was an international effort involving many cooperating film archives, and mainly drawing on prints in three archives – the Cinémathèque française, the Cinémathèque royale de Belgique, and the archive of SODRE in Montevideo, Uruguay – each print differently incomplete. The rediscovered scenes give us another Diary of a Lost Girl. Not only is the play of money and sex/capital and desire made explicit, but a comic spirit entirely missing from the known version emerges. — JD
An elegant narrative of moral musical chairs, Pabst’s last silent film not only plays on who holds what kind of legitimate place in society, but is also a starkly direct view of interwar Germany. Feasting the camera on Brooks’ radiant beauty, Pabst follows the adventures of innocence led astray in the shape of Thymiane, a pharmacist’s daughter. Her progress from apple of her father’s eye, through sexual lapse and approved school, to darling of an expensive brothel and finally to dowager countess, gives Pabst the opportunity to measure the Germany of the Weimar republic against Brooks’ embodiment of a vitality so exuberant that it equals innocence. — Ruth Baumgarten, Time Out Film Guide
In Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl we have the miracle of Louise Brooks. Her gifts of profound intuition may seem purely passive to an inexperienced audience, yet she succeeded in stimulating an otherwise unequal director’s talent to the extreme… Louise Brooks, always enigmatically impassive, overwhelmingly exists throughout these two films. We now know that Louise Brooks is a remarkable actress endowed with uncommon intelligence, and not merely a dazzlingly beautiful woman. — Lotte Eisner, The Haunted Screen (1969)