Acclaimed as a master of the silent era, German film director Georg Wilhelm Pabst's productions included comedy, tragedy, social satire and psycho-analytical exploration. The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s "Restored Treasures" series in November and December will screen two of the director's restored silent classics, "Pandora's Box"(1929) and "Diary of a Lost Girl" (1929).
"Pandora's Box" will be shown at noon on November 4 and "Diary of a Lost Girl" at 2pm on December 2 at the Cinema of the HKFA. Film Critics Li Cheuk-to and Mary Wong will host post-screening talks conducted in Cantonese.
With an acting and stage background, Austrian-born German film director Pabst (1885-1967) toured Europe as an actor from the age of 20 and was directing plays by 1912. He settled in Berlin after World War I and soon embarked on a new career in cinema. His film debut was "The Treasure" (1923), followed by "The Joyless Street" (1925) and "Secrets of a Soul" (1926). "Pandora's Box" and "Diary of a Lost Girl" are considered to be his masterpieces. He moved to France in 1933 and to Austria after World War II, where he continued to make films with social and political concerns.
In "Pandora's Box" the iconic Louise Brooks plays the diva Lulu who is both an innocent sweetheart and a predator of men. Her charm and beauty and her realistic expression of jealousy, disappointment and satisfaction as a temptress have convinced audiences that such a diva can abandon man after man and yet remain loyal to her true love.
The digital restoration of the film was led by restoration expert Martin Koerber from Filmmuseum Berlin, with George Eastman House as the co-ordinating archive and production by Big Sound LLC. The restoration went through a digital combination of three different source prints made available by Cinémathéque Française, Narodni Filmovy Archive and Gosfilmofond via Cineteca di Bologna. The newly restored version of 143 minutes contains 20 minutes more footage than the previous copy.
Pabst and Brooks teamed up again to film "Diary of a Lost Girl", an adaptation of Margarete Böhme's controversial novel. Involving a series of unpleasant happenings, a young and innocent girl from a rich family becomes pregnant following sexual abuse, is sent to reform school and ends up as a prostitute in a brothel. Pabst's delightful camera works follows the lost girl's helpless fate. Brooks' charisma and sex appeal remains a highlight of the film.
The restoration of this film was based on the only three existing nitrate positive prints from the Cinémathéque Française, the Cinémathéque Royale de Belgique and the Sodre archive in Montevideo. Through this restoration, most of the scenes originally cut by German censors were restored and a key brothel scene re-discovered.
Both film prints are courtesy of the German film archive Deutsche Kinemathek - Museum für Film und Fernsehen. The films have German intertitles and English subtitles with live music accompaniment by Wong Yan-kwai and friends.
Tickets for "Pandora's Box" are now available at URBTIX outlets while tickets for "Diary of a Lost Girl" will be available from November 2. Tickets are priced at $50. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and their minders, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made on 2111 5999, or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Detailed programme information can be found in "ProFolio 65", which is distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the webpage: www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011rt3/2011rt3_film.html.
Ends/Monday, October 22, 2012
A film still from "Pandora's Box" (1929).
A film still from "Diary of a Lost Girl" (1929).