BLU-RAY REVIEW: DIARY OF A LOST GIRL / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: GEORG WILHELM PABST / SCREENPLAY: RUDOLF LEONHARDT / STARRING: LOUISE BROOKS, JOSEF ROVENSKY, FRITZ RASP, FRANZISKA KINZ / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 24TH
Eureka’s Masters of Cinema series is helping to archive screen classics and shed new light on films we’ve perhaps taken for granted, but their greatest achievement is allowing viewers to experience the magic and dignity of silent cinema. To anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of seeing a silent film, G. W. Pabst’s iconic 1929 melodrama is a great place to start.
One of the most relevant films of the German silent era, Diary of a Lost Girl follows Thymian Henning (Brooks), who is seduced by a larcenous employee of her father’s pharmacy. Rejecting her family’s expectations following the birth of their child, Thymian is sent to a reform school under the sado-sexual gaze of its headmistress. Following her eventual escape, Thymian inevitably crosses paths with her family again.
The film starts by simply stating that the original cut was changed due to censorship and this is the version as was intended. Following an intense reconstruction, damaged and missing scenes have been retouched and included. While the film fluctuates in quality, it’s scrubbed up pretty nicely.
Louise Brooks is incredibly striking with her severe haircut and gamine features, dominating every frame she’s in. Curiously, Diary of a Lost Girl marked her second and final collaboration with Pabst, following Pandora’s Box. Fritz Rasp has a tremendous and sinister presence as the gruesome Meinert, and Franziska Kinz is particularly imposing as the devilish Meta.
Javier Perez de Aspeitia plays a superb new piano score, sometimes thunderous and demanding and other times wonderfully melodious, floating gently over the images. Its crisp sound revitalising the sequences on screen.
There may be some scenes that outstay there welcome, particularly the farcical cow milking scene and the sequence at the beach, but Diary of a Lost Girl is an arresting and important film which is still as potent and captivating as it’s ever been.
Special Features: Piano score of Javier Perez de Aspeitia / Video essay by filmmaker and critic David Carins / 40-page booklet
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