Elle est une femme fatale.
Thus sang the chorus. Der unsichtbar Chor.
On Big Star’s cover of The Velvet Underground.
Third/Sister Lovers. Alex Chilton from Lou Reed.
And so if we want to really know the prostitute in Vivre sa vie (Godard’s best “movie”), then we must see G.W. Pabst’s Die Büchse der Pandora.
See Mulholland Dr.
The gloss of her brunette bob.
Yes, this film is many things.
And here is why.
The two climaxes.
One would fit seamlessly into Fritz Lang’s M…or virtually anything by Alfred Hitchcock.
But the other climax?
It is seconds before.
And worlds more important.
Like Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation album.
Two lost souls.
One is reflecting on a messed up life. Perhaps.
The other is a messed up life reflecting on nothing. Just content with a moment’s peace. Maybe.
Soon consumed by cataclysm.
An act of God.
Or its opposite.
What I mean to convey is that G.W. Pabst did something remarkable with this film.
It really does read (watch?) like Mulholland Dr. or The Big Sleep.
Something is missing here and there.
Sound! (for one thing…)
I’ve said it before, but it really does matter who picks the music for these silent films.
It takes some research to know whether the version which has come down to you has anything to do with any official release which might have happened in the year of said film’s premiere.
What I got was Tchaikovsky…and “Greensleeves”…
But, most remarkably…it is the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture (by Пётр Ильи́ч) without the soaring love theme…which is to say, it is the build-ups…the violent cymbal crashes…the angular solemnity which Dvořák’s 9th Symphony also shares (particularly the bold final movement).
But none of this really matters.
What matters is Lulu. Nana.
Alban Berg. “Das Messer ist blutig…”