A masterwork of the German Silent Cinema whose reputation has only increased over time, Diary of a Lost Girl (Tagebuch einer Verlorenen) traces the journey of a young woman from the pit of despair to the moment of personal awakening. Directed with virtuoso flair by the great G. W. Pabst, Diary of a Lost Girl represents the final pairing of the filmmaker with screen icon Louise Brooks, mere months after their first collaboration in the now-legendary Pandoras Box (Die Büchse der Pandora). Brooks plays Thymiane Henning, an unprepossessing young woman seduced by an unscrupulous and mercenary character employed at her fathers pharmacy (played with gusto by Fritz Rasp, the degenerate villain of such Fritz Lang classics as Metropolis, Spione, and Frau im mond). After Thymiane gives birth to the child and subsequently rejects her familys expectations for marriage, the baby is stripped from her care, and Thymiane is relegated to a purgatorial reform school that functions less as an educational institution and more like a conduit for fulfilling the headmistress's sadistic libidinal fantasies. When Thymiane at last manages to escape and learn the fate of her child, she despondently enters a brothel where she nonetheless flourishes emotionally and sexually, and life begins anew.
Vivid exploration of a corrupt society in which sex and money dominate social relationships. Pabst's last silent film is a direct and absorbing view of inter-war Germany; Louise Brooks is stunning, seductive and fascinating, and if one suspects Pabst is less concerned with innocence corrupted than with those doing the corrupting, it certainly doesn't diminish the allure of the film. The ending is surprisingly, but charmingly, upbeat, reminding one that Brooks could make a bad good girl every bit as exciting as a good bad one.