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Swoon Pt. II

The 1929 silent movie Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks, is one of my favourite films. I hadn't read the play until recently. The character who speaks the lines I quoted in my last entry, Alva, is much different in the movie, so I was surprised by the sexual-sexy-sex-sex of the lines. Although the Alva (Alwa) in the movie (played by Francis Lederer) is the one I'm in love with.

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I've watched it dozens of times (when my mania is acting up the way is has been lately, I'll watch/listen to the same movie/song over and over again), and recently I reached for it when I was in the midst of writing the most recent chapter of Leadbelly. The goodbye kiss between Faye and Ezekiel was inspired by the kiss in Pandora's Box between Lulu and Alwa -- one of my favourite screen kisses of all time. The species of affection the two characters hold for the other are quite different, but that's irrelevant to me when I'm watching it.

Louise Brooks' character, Lulu, is a captivating little creature who dances (sometimes literally, and almost always obliviously) in and out of people's lives, trailing some measure of chaos and devestation behind her.

Alwa, Lulu's best friend, is, as she says, "the only one who never wants anything from me". Although it's pretty evident from the look on his face when she says it, and the look on the face of their mutual friend, the Countess Augusta (who is also in love with her) that this really isn't the case. However, despite the fact that Alwa is a young man now, his love for Lulu is an innocent one. A boyish crush. Nothing more.

After all, Lulu is his father’s well-kept mistress.

You pretty much already know by this point that the poor boy is doomed.

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Dr. Schon, Alwa’s father is engaged to be married to Daisy d’Ora –the “anti-Lulu”, if you will. As a result, Dr. Schon warns Lulu that he’ll be giving her up in short time. Lulu, though, is as much a mistress of self-preservation as she is to Dr. Schon. After the biggest temper tantrum this side of the one I threw when I found out they were remaking Alfie, she manages to sink her claws into him after being caught in flagrante delicto by both Daisy and Alwa.

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Whether or not Lulu orchestrated the entire event, Dr. Schon isn’t sure. Either way he has no other real choice but to marry her to save his reputation.

Instead of being deeply traumatized by the whole thing (like anyone in the real world would), it seems to trigger some sort of sexual awakening in Alwa. Or an Oedipus complex. Either way, puppy love makes way for full-blown, can’t-live-without-you love, which Alwa decides to disclose to Lulu during his father’s wedding reception, throwing himself down on his knees and burying his head in her lap. I had to reach for my smelling salts the first time I watched it.

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This is not the worst thing to happen to Dr. Schon on his wedding day. I’ll let you decide what is, though.

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a) Your blushing bride engages in a scandalous samba with the lesbian who loves her.
b) You find out your bride’s former pimp is on the guestlist.
c) You discover your son with his head in Pandora’s box.

Anyways, Dr. Schon decides that this isn’t his bag. Nowadays, I’m almost certain it’s someone’s bag and by now they’ve made their own film about it. But I digress. Dr. Schon, driven mad by the evening’s events, sends his son from the room and forces a gun into Lulu’s hands, demanding she use it to kill herself. Why it didn’t occur to him that this might be a colossal error in judgement, I have no idea. Which brings us to:

d) Your bride accidentally shoots you point blank in the chest with your own pistol.

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This has "Freudian" written all over it.

Anyways, the sound of gunfire brings Alwa back into the room just in time to watch his father die in his arms. It’s a case of self-defense, but Alwa is never entirely certain. So love is, like, legally blind. It can drive, but not at night.

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Lulu, despite being absolutely adorable on the stand, is found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to five years, but manages to evade being taken into custody during a commotion in the courtroom orchestrated by an outraged Countess Augusta and other members of Team Lulu.

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Ever the enigma, Lulu heads back to the Schon house where she is confronted by a startled Alwa, who is quite unnerved by the fact that she seems to feel so at home in the same room his father bled to death in. Hurt, Lulu very determinedly crosses the room, picks up the phone, and proceeds to call the state prosecutor’s office to turn herself in.

So why this long, boring plot description? Because it all leads up to classic, silver screen foreplay. Or foneplay, rather.

Alwa tries to wrestle the phone out of Lulu’s hands. They struggle, pulling and pushing each other away. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good fight. I’ve never been much of a rom-com girl. However, I also don’t like those moments where the two people are shouting, shouting, shouting and then suddenly they’re on each other like...well...me on a fight scene.

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It doesn’t happen like that. The first time I watched the movie, I was worried that there wouldn’t be a kiss. But then -- BAM! And, oh, what a kiss it was!

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The video below is fan-made and set to The Killers' Mr. Brightside. It's chock full of spoilers, but at the same time the clips might not make too much sense out of context. I don't know. This entry's really long enough as it is, so I'll leave it at that.

Comments

*finds movie*

I think I have to see this now.

I have a more appropriate icon, but I *think* the one I used is Louise Brooks. I had a whole series of icons with silent film stars/Tori Amos quotes.
Your icon is actually a picture of Pola Negri, who was pretty darn vampish in her day. Very appropriate, if you ask me. :)

And you need to see it! It's such a good movie, and Francis Lederer is all sorts of adorable! :D

Someone's posted the entire movie on youtube. I highly recommend turning down the volume and throwing down your own playlist to listen to while you watch it. The movie's actual soundtrack can become tedious after a little while. :)
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March 2010

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