The last line in Diary of a Lost Girl is a truism that is often forgotten in a world with blue and red states of mind and tastes. Of course this movie isn’t at all political and that makes it all the more a marvelous oasis. It is a wonderfully melodramatic and amazingly stylish tale of a girl lost to the passions of men and her own innocence and sexuality. And in falling she is able to rise higher than if she never had fallen at all. This a story told in every age but this one has Louise Brooks. And that’s more than a little something extra.
Louise Brooks is stunning and effortlessly sexy in a way that surely makes men weak and the ladies envious. It reminded me of why if I could look like anyone it would be Louise Brooks. Of course Pabst directors her expertly. Much of the same themes of Pandora’s Box come through. A girl a victim of her own beauty and allure left to ruin. Louise Brooks once claimed her beauty was a curse and these stories would seem to nurture that belief. Not knowing what it is like to be so deeply and generously cursed maybe this is a view from the inside. Yet, unlike Pandora’s Box, Diary of a Lost Girl is far from fatalistic. It’s redemptive.
I do love how she faints away to passion just before the screen goes dark. Is it surrender? Or something more complex like Russian play, she is victim to the fates. It makes her a somewhat helpless participant in her own missteps She is a vulnerable girl tormented by circumstance, faithless lovers and left paying for the sins of her father.
We’ve all seen the story of the girl in trouble that leads to heartless attempts of correction and then to a dissipated life. The style and beauty of the film makes it magical. I know the cinematic twists of the arm to make me feel anger, sorrow and pain. Yet I didn’t mind them because it’s so richly and beautifully made.
Silent films highlight those moments when the doors open up to new destinies without words. They allow us to write the lion’s share of the dialogue and brilliant speeches. We end up loving the movie not only for what it has shown but for what it allows us to say. A pedestrian story turns into something personal and profound. The acting and visuals here leave little room for anything but a masterpiece of being lost and found and gaining genuine identity. An ownership of not only ourselves but each other instead of condemnation. If they spoke would the spell be broken? I’m glad I’ll never know.