Diary Of A Lost Girl

Diary of a Lost Girl is a classic silent starring Louise Brooks. Louise plays Thymian, a naive young girl who watches in incomprehension as her father fires a housekeeper he has seduced. The housekeeper's fate serves to foreshadow Thymian's own as later the same day she is raped by her father's assistant. After giving birth to a child made in the act and refusing to marry her rapist, Thymian is sent away to a home for wayward girls and generally abandoned by her father. We watch her father move on with his life, marrying and building a new family and his assistant continue to lead his normal life. If you think it sounds disheartening, just wait until you watch it with Louise's expressive eyes staring back at you in confusion and sadness...

The film is a harsh critique of bourgeois values and the hypocrisy of so-called polite society. The house for wayward girls is run by a couple that are meant to reform the girls, but instead are cast as sadists who seem to take pleasure humiliating and hurting those placed in their care. It's no wonder that upon escaping that school, Thymian begins to work at a brothel where the women seem like a sisters. In fact, the only positive relationships in the film tend to be between the women.
It is a very empowering film towards women and harsh critique of gender double standards; this is somewhat surprising considering it was made in 1929. Despite certain underlying positive messages, much of the film feels heart-breakingly inevitable. Thymian seems to slip from one situation to another without any ability to dictate her fate; she even is shown as fainting in several scenes. It's a harsh world-view where everyone seems to be either a victim or villain and there's no escape. Those who don't fit into the confines of regular society are "lost."
While the film is bleak and Thymian's situation seems to alter many times without seeming to improve, we are not left entirely devastated. There are moments of hope, such as when Thymian chooses to forgive a woman who wronged her and give generously. In the end, the film serves almost as a warning than anything else. It concludes with the line, "with a little more love, no one on this earth would be lost!" Thymian might in time recover from all the wrong that has been committed against her and even escape her past, but we cannot know that her good position at the end of the film won't be as temporary as her past situations. Therefore, we are instructed to take the film's parting words with us and focus on not let such suffering occur again...
Diary of a Lost Girl, screencaps by me

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