This masterpiece of silent German cinema traces the journey of a young woman from the pit of despair to the moment of personal awakening.
Directed by the great G. W. Pabst, ‘Diary of a Lost Girl’ represents the final pairing of the filmmaker with screen icon Louise Brooks, only months after their first collaboration in the now-legendary ‘Pandora’s Box’. Pabst's final silent feature wagged a big finger at the decadence of the Weimar Republic, turning the story of a badly used young girl into an arch condemnation of moral corruption at the heart of the German soul.
The stunning Brooks plays an unprepossessing young woman seduced by an unscrupulous and mercenary character employed at her father’s pharmacy.
After she gives birth to his child and rejects her family’s expectations for marriage, the baby is stripped from her care, and she enters a purgatorial reform school that seems less an institute of higher learning than a conduit for fulfilling the headmistress’s sadistic sexual fantasies.
Lesbian eroticism is another obvious subtext here, especially in the reformatory, where most of the girls have clipped, close-cropped boyish haircuts – the film is steeped in this kind of sexual suggestiveness.
The film is never less than beautiful, its style fluid and expressionist while also remaining grounded in social realism. And Brooks is just magnificent, with a beautiful and vibrant face that was perfectly suited to the silent cinema.