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  • Wed 24 Aug
    19:30 Subs (Foreign)

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Please be aware that there are no trailers before the performance.

  • Wed 24 Aug
  • 133 minutes
  • Director: GW Pabst
  • Cast: Louise Brooks, Alice Roberts, Carl Goetz, Krafft-Raschig, Fritz Kortner, Franz Lederer
  • Germany (1929)


Pink Palace our weekly queer film club presents one of the great silent films, and the first on screen representation of lesbianism - GW Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929).

The film is renowned for its sensational storyline, sparkling Weimar-period setting and the legendary, lead performance from its iconic star Louise Brooks.

“a panorama of depravity and low-life, particularly relevant to the decadence of Berlin in the 20’s…” The play was dismissed and detested by the very people it portrayed (the elite ruling class) as inarticulate and immoral in a successful attempt to supress this dangerous piece of art.

The title is a reference to the Pandora of Greek mythology, who upon opening a box given to her by the Olympian gods released all evils into the world, leaving only hope behind.

Pabst’s film adaptation follows the rise and fall of Lulu (Brooks), a spirited showgirl, an amoral pleasure seeking bisexual hedonist whose sheer sexual magnetism wreaks havoc on the lives of men and women alike, bringing eventual ruin to herself and those who love her.

The film was highly controversial in its day mostly due to its ground-breaking scenes of rampant unabashed lesbianism, which led it to be censored and heavily cut, cuts demanded by the Nazi party and supported by an appeasing European distribution market (at the time). Savaged by critics and eventually banned the film disappeared from the public conscious.

Then following the Second World War, the film and Brooks performance began to be reappraised by film scholars, as an unsung classic of the Weimar German Cinema, but in Europe all the prints had been destroyed or butchered, however a few uncut original copies had been sent abroad to foreign festivals, and in this way touched by some unseen hand of fate, the film survived the campaign against it.

Restored to its original cut and running time, the film now stands as an incredibly modern movie, and few stars of any era dazzle as bright as Louise Brooks.

Brooks' talent as an actress, which had been criticized upon the film's initial release (specifically by German critics), was also subject to international reappraisal and acclaim.


Film critic Roger Ebert  in 1998 remarked of Brooks' presence that "she regards us from the screen as if the screen were not there; she casts away the artifice of film and invites us to play with her".


Quentin Tarantino listed the movie among his 10 greatest films of all time.

For LGBTQI+ audiences the film is an iconic representation and testament to the existence of the queer lesbian Berlin underground nearly 100 years ago, a vibrant, creative boundary pushing place the gave us so much art, music, cabaret, dance and above all a freedom of expression, and also a chilling reminder of how quickly and brutally that queer subculture was supressed and then erased by the Nazi’s.

To introduce the screening, we welcome back writer and queer-storian Adam Zmith and writer and film-programmer So Mayer who will explain the films connection with the current hit podcast on BBC Sounds “The Film We Can’t See” which takes the story of the making of Pandoras Box, Louise Brooks, Paul Robeson, the research of gender identity pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld, lost sound recording by Sergei Eisenstein, an unrealised film script by Derek Jarman and the convoluted rich history of your own Rio Cinema.

Please note there are NO ads or trailers, the event starts at 7.30pm

These pop up screenings are presented in a casual relaxed setting in the basement lounge with a state of the art LED screen and Dolby sound, seating is provided on a mix of newly reupholstered chairs, wheel chair spaces and stools in an informal and intimate manner.

The screenings are a safe queer space and an open forum to stay and discuss the issues of the films afterwards. If you have any access questions please contact us, the basement is fully accessible by lift and has gender neutral accessible toilets.