A beautiful film begins to play on the screen…
The notes of music start to sing delightful songs, as the black and white hues of coloration mingle together in a lovely, memorable way. A few seconds into the film, a woman magically enters the frame, exiting a door and taking notice of an older man a few steps from her form. She approaches the man with an unmistakable confidence, wearing a fluid dress that awakens the senses in its light, sheer drapery and silk accents. The woman begins to pour a drink for the elder man– a coquettish glint sparkles in her eye, as a mysterious smile charms and intrigues all who see it. Her face glows on the screen. Her glistening image mesmerizes. The woman’s shining raven bob frames her heightened, alluring beauty, as well as her dark, memorable eyes that hold within them this unparalleled seductive energy, this independence, this undeniable awareness of who she is and what she herself desires. As the woman stares at the man, you, as a viewer, cannot stop yourself from staring at her.
This film’s name is Pandora’s Box and the mesmerizing woman is Louise Brooks.
Louise Brooks was born in Cherryvale Kansas in the year 1906. With exposure to the arts from an early age, Brooks was destined for a career on the stage and on film–dancing and acting for all the world to see. In the year 1922, Brooks joined the Denishawn Dance Company, dancing under the greats of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Brooks took part in performances that encompassed a modernity unseen before, elements that were new and different. Soon after her time with the Denishawn Dance Company, Louise Brooks joined George White’s Scandals as a chorus girl, performing in terrific, sometimes risqué, acts. She further exemplified her wonderfully hedonistic stance on life by traveling to Europe and dancing in nightclubs, being the first person to ‘Charleston’ in London. In the year 1925, Brooks joined the Ziegfeld Follies, becoming one of the top dancers of the production. Through her career in dance, Louise Brooks broke the molds of femininity by doing what she wished to do. She tore away at Victorian constraints and became a true flapper of the 1920s. Due to her successful time as a dancer and her radiating energetic freedom, she was recognized by the film industry, recognized by Paramount, and she began her career as an actress.
Before creating remarkable works of film in Europe, Louise Brooks acted in the United States, having parts in comedies and dramas such as Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em, It’s the Old Army Game, A Girl in Every Port, and Beggars of Life. In each film, Brooks beauty and talent is exhibited–she easily controls of the viewer’s thoughts and vision on every viewing occasion. Due to a lack of a raise in her payment, however, Brooks left Paramount. She did not care about leaving the Hollywood industry in the United States. She did not care how it would affect her movie career. She realized she wasn’t being treated justly. She wasn’t being treated as she expected. As a result, she traveled to Berlin, a fantastically wild city of the 1920s, where she danced in the clubs till the early morning hours, where she met people of unique backgrounds, and where she worked with the director G.W. Pabst to create two true masterpieces of silent film…Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl. Whether it was the mesmerizing Lulu in Pandora’s Box or the tragic Thymian in Diary of a Lost Girl, Brooks played roles that contained much depth, that conveyed much emotion. Not just in dancing, Louise Brooks revealed her true abilities as a strong, opinionated actress in film. Brooks, internally and externally, housed admirable qualities of bravery and independence. She was her own person, a woman of a modern era.
Louise Brooks epitomized the flapper of the “Jazz Age,” as well as the social innovations of the 1920s– the altered structures of gender and the awesomely defying changes in the fashion industry. Brooks played with masculine, as well as feminine styles. She was unafraid to show her form in what she wore, unafraid to allow her expression and her belief in choice to shine. She made fashion decisions based on her own opinions and ideas–she did not allow the past, constraining beliefs of society influence her magnificent selections. Brooks dazzled in fashion’s novel lack of constraints– in vivacious, sparkling drop waist dresses, luxurious fur coats and boas, beautiful cloche hats, t-straps and mary jane heels of movement, suits and collard shirts of newly defined feminine modernity, daring silky kimonos of a seductive aura, and more. With her hair cut in a perfect, exquisite bob, Louise Brooks was and continues to be a fashion icon in the world.
Louise Brooks film career ended in the 1930s. It was not until the 1950s when she was discovered once again. After her rediscovery, Brooks became a memorable critic, delving into the films she had made and the people she had encountered in her life. With a wonderful lack of restraint and a lack of fear to speak the truth, Brooks wrote what she truly believed. Rightfully gaining much popularity over these past few years, Louise Brooks remains an icon to this day, both in film and in fashion.
Louise Brooks was a dancer, an actress, a flapper, a woman who was undaunted by the obstacles thrown in her way. Throughout her life, she lived with this excellent confidence, this opinionated stance that did not care about what others thought about her. She spoke and expressed her ideas as she wished to. She acted in what she wanted to act in. She lived a life that was bold and commendable. Although Louise Brooks birthday was on November 14th, I still want to wish her a happy birthday and I want to thank her for being who she was, a flapper, an individual…someone who I very much look up to.