Perhaps it is inappropriate that G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box will be the last movie I watch before flying 18 hours to the University of Chicago, and into a new chapter of my life. After all, the movie depicts characters who can barely understand or avoid the impulses they chase, even though this inevitably leads them into situations ever more dire. Indeed, in the shot above, Lulu (Louise Brooks) thinks she’s just ensured that things will go back to the way they were. Spoiler alert: they will not.
But I would like to think that I have a better grasp on my future than Lulu does, and the movie also works as fitting emblem for some of my hopes and resolutions. Take this very shot: as she gets dressed for her stage debut, assistants decked out-of-focus around her, you might think the reasons for Lulu’s glee are entirely professional. In truth, she’s just netted a very personal triumph, but you wouldn’t know this if I hadn’t said it (unless you’ve watched the film, of course). Take it from me too, then, that this blog is going to get a lot more personal from now on, since its pegging to my ups and downs as a film-studying undergrad means that my relationship to the movies will advance beyond the occasional rental and formal critique.
Then again, I don’t mean to understate just how far my pre-college cinephilia extends, since I bought Bordwell and Thompson’s magisterial Film History: An Introduction for a bit of enjoyable reading more than two months ago. Thus I can’t see how Pandora’s Box is anything but appropriate for this moment: not only did Nathaniel R fortuitously delay its episode in his inspiring Hit Me with Your Best Shot series so it coincided nicely with my departure; not only does it belong to the silent era, an area of expertise for my university’s film studies department; it also fits into one of the biggest gaps in my movie knowledge that I’m already most eager to fill.
What follows, then, is a list of movies that I’m hoping to catch for the first time (or would like a proper new look at) while in college. They’re divided into the sections of Film History that I’ve read in which they turn up, and Pandora’s Box lies crossed out among them, giving you a glimpse of the kind of tweet-length response that follows when I’ve watched one of them. And of course I’m expecting this list to grow—not least because you might have some to recommend!