G.W. Pabst, director; Louise Brooks, actress

Pandora’s Box (Germany; 1928)

Frame capture


Long considered one of the masterpieces of German silent cinema, Pandora’s Box also is notable for its early yet complex depiction of a lesbian character in a feature length film.  Lulu (Louise Brooks) is a beguiling prostitute who entrances all who come into her proximity.  One of Lulu’s admirers is Countess Geschwitz (Alice Roberts), a wealthy lesbian who is drawn to Lulu’s flame.  The Countess is a passionate and devoted character who cannot help but to love the dissolute Lulu.  The presence of a prominent lesbian character in the film caused American censors to initially insist that the Countess’s character be excised from the film.


Although actress Louise Brooks considered herself heterosexual, she often was thought to be a lesbian in Hollywood because of her strong, independent nature.  The fact that she admitted to brief lesbian affairs with the likes of Greta Garbo guaranteed that she would always be an early lesbian filmic icon.


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