Together with Pandora's Box (1928), Diary confirmed Pabst's artistry as one of the great directors of the silent period and established Brooks as an "actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparallel... more »ed in screen history" (Kevin Brownlow, The Parade's Gone By). Brooks, in a delicately restrained performance, plays the naïve daughter of a prosperous pharmacist. Shy and faunlike, the wide-eyed innocent is made pregnant by her father's young assistant. To preserve family honor, she is sent to a repressive reform school from which she eventually escapes. Penniless and homeless, she is directed to a brothel where she becomes liberated and lives for the moment with radiant physical abandon. This Kino on DVD version of Diary of a Lost Girl has been mastered from a new restoration of the film, made by the Bologna Cinematheque, which adds approximately seven minutes of previously censored footage never seen in the United States. An evocative new score has been added by Joseph Turrin.« less
"This new Kino DVD version of DIARY OF A LOST GIRL contains footage that has been added, re-edited, and even RE-SHOT, compared to Kino's 1990 VHS version. I did a side-by-side comparison of the DVD and the 1990 VHS tape version and found that director G.W. Pabst had apparently shot two versions of some scenes -- one version being used on the 1990 VHS version, another on this DVD. Most of the differences are minute, such as actors standing on slightly different spots or posing or gesturing a little differently. For instance, at time 00:02:39 on the DVD, Thymian (Louise Brooks) is standing at the doorway with her arms bent. But in the 1990 VHS version, the same shot shows that her arms are straight. At time 00:03:43 of the DVD, Thymian bends forward (toward camera) to pick something up on the floor. In the 1990 VHS version, she bends sideways (to viewer's right) to pick it up. A few re-shot scenes, however, have more drastic differences, with the tone and mood of the scene altered considerably. At 00:04:50, Meinert raises his eyebrows and nods at Thymian, who returns a flirtatious smile. In the 1990 VHS version, however, Meinert only smiles softly, and Thymian's expression is more restrained. At 00:07:52 of the DVD, after Thymian sees what Meinert wrote in her diary, she turns her head slowly and stares incredulously at Meinert for a moment, then locks her diary. In the 1990 VHS version, she simply locks her diary and never looks at Meinert. Kino emailed me a list of about 80 differences between the 1990 VHS version (which they call the "English version") and the new DVD version (which they call the "German version"). The list reveals there are actually some scenes on the 1990 VHS version that are not on this DVD. Regarding the re-shot scenes, the list is apparently not inclusive, for I've personally noticed a lot more re-shot footage on the DVD. For instance, the sequence in which Elizabeth the housekeeper begs Mr. Henning to let her stay but finally she has to leave is composed entirely of re-shot footage. (Note how amazing it is that these actors were able to give the same great performances twice! But since the two versions are nearly identical, one wonders why Pabst would bother re-shooting at all.)And I haven't begun to mention the newly added footage -- scenes not on the 1990 VHS version at all, but on this DVD. The new scenes are sprinkled throughout the DVD, resulting in about 9 minutes of material, some of which quite startling. One shows the guard in the reformatory, after catching Erika putting on her makeup, uses her lipstick to write on his note book, "Punish Erika"; then he draws a heart shape next to it, revealing to us what he exactly means by "punish". Another rather risque scene shows Thymian in the brothel performs some gymnastics in a swimsuit in front of her clients.The new DVD, which Kino calls the "German version", still uses English title cards. Their wordings and placements have been significantly changed compared to the 1990 VHS version. The differences in placements, of course, have resulted in the film being edited differently. Some title cards now have more explicit, even risque, wordings. One reads, "So you have had your way with the housekeeper too," alluding to the unspoken relation between Mr. Henning and Elizabeth. In the scene where Meinert tries to seduce Thymian, the title card shows him saying, "I'll tell you all about Elizabeth tonight, Thymian. BIG Thymian." The DVD has one incorrect title card. It shows what Meinert wrote in Thymian's diary to be "Meet me 11:30 tonight." The time should read 10:30, as indicated by a later shot of a clock. The 1990 VHS version does have the correct time on the title card.I prefer the score used on the 1990 VHS version. The violin solo used on the VHS version brings out the feelings of loneliness and despair more effectively than the more elaborate orchestration used on the DVD. The old score is not included on this DVD.The video transfer of the DVD came from new source material and it looks much less battered, sharper, more detailed, and better contrasted than that of the 1990 VHS version. Still, the improved picture of the DVD is nowhere near the sparkling image quality of, say, the Criterion DVD version of HAXAN or THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC.The DVD also includes a rarely-seen sound film that stars Brooks, titled WINDY WILEY GOES HOLLYWOOD. The sound era was believed to have ended Brooks' acting career. But in this film, her voice sounds just fine to me. The video transfer of this 18-minute 1930 comedy film has a heavily-battered picture transfer and a very hissy soundtrack (not many prints of this film exist, we are told). And there are no subtitles or closed captioning. But all the dialogs register pretty clearly. This short film is available only on the DVD version, not on the 2001 VHS version (which is not to be confused with the out-of-print 1990 VHS version that I referred to throughout this review)."
Ed N | Kensington, Maryland USA | 10/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WOW!!! I never in my wildest dreams thought this silent film classic starring Louise Brooks was coming to DVD! I thought for sure Pandora's Box (Ms. Brooks' most famous film) would come first. And furthermore, I thought Criterion would be the company to release the film, but it looks like Kino's will have the honor. That's not bad, either - Kino's has a LOT of good foreign/silent/independent films, and I've always liked their VCR tapes, so I'm looking forward eagerly to Diary of a Lost Girl.For those not in the know, Louise Brooks was the ultimate flapper girl of the 1920s. She was probably more famous for her haircut, beauty, and lifestyle than her films. But her film legacy is firmly established by two German films she made after leaving Hollywood briefly - Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, both by G.W. Pabst (one of the legendary silent film directors). Both films, if you can find them, are absolute classics. The German expressionist style has rarely been more beautifully captured than in Pandora's Box (Hitchcock used this style too in a lot of his early black/white films). And I was lucky enough to find a beat-up VHS copy of Diary. If you like silent films, you can't go wrong with this film either! The imagery is stunning, Louise Brooks looks gorgeous and gives a moving performance a young lady who, having lost her virtue, is consequently shunned by society and has to learn to care for herself. I don't like to give away plots, so that's all I'll say, but I am looking forward to owning this film on DVD! Highly recommended!"
Not the best entry in the Brooksie Diary!
Robert Badgley | London,Ontario,Canada | 05/21/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I am giving this most recent version on DVD of the Pabst/Brooks collaboration 'Diary of a Lost Girl' just three stars. Like their previous effort 'Pandora's Box',this film will never be shown in its' complete form.Both were butchered by censors in Germany,Europe and in North America for their "explicit" content and to make it more palatable for the particular countries' audiences. I have personally seen over the years about six different versions of this film and all have subtle differences or complete ommissions.This is the most comprehensive version but it does have its' differences both subtle and major. One major piece returned to the film is a scene on the beach where the customer who first 'took' Louise as a brothel employee,now returns asking if she remembers him.It's nice to see it there but because of the previous cuts to this film it does nothing to advance the plot and could easily have stayed out. Throughout the film there are a few scenes I have noticed,like the previous reviewer,that have alternate takes inserted that differ with the /90 VHS version.Furthermore there are also scenes which the VHS version does have and this DVD version does NOT have.An example is the "lottery" scene where Louise is being auctioned off in the nightclub.In the VHS version there are two cuts to the reaction of the his father,wife and assistant.The most telling and important of the two showing his wife smirking at Louise has been ommitted from the new DVD version.VERY unfortunate as it does so much,among other things,to emphasize Louises' hurt and abondonment. Another scene reinserted in this new version is the dancing lesson scene.The "restorers" in Europe refer through sub-titles that Louise is teaching dancing at the brothel where she now is staying.This is her attempt to earn a living "legitmately".I have seen this scene before but it was never referred specifically to as dancing.In fact I have always considered that she is giving exercise lessons NOT dancing lessons.She comes into the room with a small "drum" and stick(no phonograph or radio in sight),she takes off her robe to reveal anything but a dance outfit,the patron starts knee squatting as he lasciviously eyes Louise,then Louise proceeds to do upper body bends.No dancing takes place here.Pabst knew of Louise's dancing abilities of course which were used to good effect elsewhere in the movie but here I think this is just supposition and a liberty taken on the part of the restorers of this new version that had them put "dancing" into the titles instead of what it really was. Another point of contention I have is the inter-titles or sub-titling.There are some that have been repeated from the VHS version but others newly inserted that have been,as far as I can tell,newly created.For example and in keeping with the lottery scene,there is a moment where Louise makes eye contact with her father.The shame on his face is mirrored by the shame on Louises' face who starts to cry.As a topper to this poignant moment Dr.Vitalis who has lost in his bid in the lottery to Count Osdorff starts to cry.After a moment Louise looks away to see the Doctors' face,another one who needs consoling but about whom she can do very little but offer an empathetic glance.It is a great scene and one in which I've never seen a sub title but this new version gets one from the doctor who tells her not only is she now lost but they all are.This scene has always stood on it's own and this sub-title is totally inappropriate,it simply does NOT need one! Another criticism is the music.I would have liked to have seen a new orchestral score but it is my oppinion the music of the VHS version and the appropriate mood and lift it provided was much better suited to the film than this electronic driven score that at times detracts from the picture totally and spoils it. Lastly is the inclusion in both the VHS version and this new one of the two ladies at the beach who come upon Louises' step uncle and her.She calls to the uncle "Cousin Osdorff".Again until I saw the VHS version this card showed her calling his real name.The versions I have known previously refer to this woman and the one with her as two acquaintances of his who do charity work and who then ask for Louises' help in their cause.Here we have them as related and the one lady asking if she can "help care for" her.Why would she need "caring" for by anyone as she is obviously being cared for quite well by her step uncle? If this is the real original sub-title(which I doubt unless proven otherwise)then some important footage is missing here. Technically this new DVD version,new footage aside,has a much better contrast than others I have seen previously and is clearer but it still has some major blemishes throughout(some VERY distracting) and I thought it should have received a little better treatment than it got. In conclusion I would say this new DVD version is mostly unsatisfying.We are given new footage which fleshes out alot of areas but some footage(though minor) has disappeared.Also the sub titles(which for the most part are intact from previous versions)have some newly added ones which are not appropriate/accurate and some that should have been excised altogether.Also the music does nothing for this version at all.It's all done cheaply on an electronic keyboard and I think the scorer was at times looking at an entirely different picture. Though we will never see a truly "complete" 'Diary',it is my oppinion that the VHS version(for all its' flaws) is the best so far.It comes closest to the the mood and spirit that Pabst intended."
Good Film, Great Brooks
Emiliano Moreno | 09/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Louise Brooks, in the finest meaning of the word, does not act in this film. What this means is that when the emotions are true to life, Brooks' performance is absolutely perfect. But, whenever the film veers into melodrama, as when Brooks has to faint, it is clear that she thinks the scene is as ridiculous and overwrought as we do, and she either doesn't bother (the likely reason) or doesn't have the technique to do anything more than the minimum needed to get through the scene.Fortunately, the movie is good enough that most of the scenes make Brooks look wonderful and her naturalness is uncanny.As with other silent films with her, she looks and behaves like a modern woman who's been put in a time machine, back to an era where everyone else looks, and acts, very quaint"
Bittersweet and tragic
Emiliano Moreno | Los Angeles, CA | 02/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Diary of a Lost Girl" (1929) shows us Louise Brooks at her best. It is the bittersweet tale of a young girl's loss of innocence. The new score by Joseph Turrin truly matches this sentimental film by G.W. Pabst , his second best known silent feature after "Pandora's Box" (1928). There are various close ups of Brooks which demonstrate that she was not only a talented actress, but a true vision of beauty. Her face is absolutely flawless. Buy this movie today on DVD, you will not regret it. The DVD also contains the eighteen minute movie short, " Windy Riley Goes to Hollywood", where one can hear Louise Brooks talk! This was directed by Roscoe " Fatty" Arbuckle under an assumed name.Arbuckle's life and career were devasted by a scandal in the early 1920's, he died not long after making this film short.
Also highly recommended is of course, "Pandora's Box" also starring the lovely Louise Brooks."