Pandora’s Box, the film in which Louise Brooks famously played Lulu, is considered one of the great works of world cinema. As such, it has been shown in many countries on at least five continents. Now, the silent era masterpiece is coming to Dubai, a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Dubai International Film Festival has announced that six films representing contemporary and classic German filmmaking will make up “In Focus: Germany,” a segment of the eighth annual festival to be held December 7 to 14, 2011. Among them, representing the classic period, is Pandora’s Box (1929). “In Focus Germany” is organized in cooperation with German Films and Goethe-Institut Gulf-Region.
The late silent melodrama, directed by G.W. Pabst, is based on Frank Wedekind’s Lulu plays. According to an article in a UAE newspaper Gulf Today, the film “stars Louise Brooks as a thoughtless young woman who brings ruin to herself and those who love her. Brooks’ intense and timeless performance as Lulu made her one of the icons of cinema.”
It’s not known if the Dubai International Film Festival showing of Pandora’s Box marks its debut in Dubai (which is possible), or even more generally in the Arab Middle East. Pandora’s Box was shown in Jerusalem in 2002.
Records also show that Brooks’ American and European silent films were screened in some of the larger cities in the region in the 1920’s and 1930’s. For example, it is known that Brooks’ 1929 American film The Canary Murder Case was screened in Cairo in the early 1930’s, and that her 1930 French film, Prix de Beaute, was shown in what is now Algeria, a former French colony.
Pandora’s Box was not a success when it premiered in Berlin on February of 1929. It only became famous with the re-emergence of its star in the 1960’s through the efforts of ardent admirers such as Henri Langlois of the Cinémathèque Française in Paris and James Card of the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.
The print to be screened at the Dubai International Film Festival has been restored by Martin Koerber of the Deutsche Kinemathek, a project which took over 12 years. The print was shown late last year at the National Film Theater in London as part of the BFI London Film Festival. The new restoration is listed at 143 minutes, ten minutes longer than a “restored version” released by Criterion on DVD in 2008.
In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, Pandora’s Box will be screened for free at The Walk at JBR, the Festival’s outdoor venue, and will be accompanied by the UAE Philharmonic Orchestra (UAEPO) conducted by Philipp Maier.
More info: Check out the Dubai International Film Festival website at http://www.dubaifilmfest.com/index.php/en/
Thomas Gladysz is a longtime fan of Louise Brooks, so much so that in 1995 he founded the Louise Brooks Society, an internet-based archive and fan club devoted to the silent film star. Gladysz has contributed to books on the actress, organized exhibits, appeared on television and radio, and introduced her films around the world. Last year, he edited and wrote the introduction to the “Louise Brooks Edition” of Margarete Bohme’s The Diary of a Lost Girl.