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Film / Diary of a Lost Girl

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"With a little more love, no one on this earth would ever be lost!"

Diary of a Lost Girl (Tagebuch einer Verlorenen) is a 1929 German silent film directed by G.W. Pabst and starring Louise Brooks.

Brooks is Thymian Henning, the daughter of pharmacist Robert Henning. On the day of Thymian's confirmation, her father kicks the maid out of the house—it turns out that Robert knocked the maid up. The maid kills herself. Thymian goes to her father's assistant, Meinert, to find out what's going on, but Meinert rapes her. Thymian, now pregnant without benefit of marriage, is thrown into a brutal reformatory for "wayward women", run by a cruel headmaster and headmistress. Her father then proceeds to marry his new maid, Meta, who is categorically against letting Thymian come home.

More traumas follow.

Diary of a Lost Girl was Pabst's follow-up to his even more successful Pandora's Box, also starring Brooks. Unfortunately for Brooks, her window to be a film star in Germany slammed shut with the coming of talking films, and her career was pretty much over once she went back home.


  • The Atoner: Count Osdorff's uncle berates himself for cutting off his lazy nephew, thereby indirectly leading to his suicide. Uncle Osdorff then offers to take care of Thymian.
  • Bald of Evil: The sadistic master of the ladies' reformatory is bald as a cueball, and he is a very bad man.
  • City Mouse: Count Osdorff is generally clueless and useless. Specifically, he makes an utter hash of it when asked to milk a cow on a farm. After this, his exasperated uncle cuts Osdorff off.
  • Death of a Child: Thymian goes to reclaim her baby after escaping from the reformatory only to find out that the baby is dead.
  • Defiled Forever: The servant girl Elisabeth drowns herself in a river after being raped and impregnated by Thymian's father.
  • Depraved Homosexual: The mistress of the reformatory is pretty obviously gay. She gets a look of orgasmic glee on her face while forcing the girls to do calisthenics at an increasingly frantic pace. At supper, the mistress casts a meaningful look at one of the inmates, and they leave together.
  • Driven to Suicide
    • Robert's first maid kills herself after he throws her out.
    • And then Osdorff the habitual loafer kills himself after Thymian reveals she gave her inheritance money to Meta.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Happens twice to Thymian. First, Meinert rapes her after she faints from weakness. Later, Thymian gets drugged at the brothel before and a john takes her to a room.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the suffering listed under Trauma Conga Line below, Thymian finds security as Uncle Osdorff's niece, and she saves another woman from the prison of the ladies' reformatory.
  • Fainting: Thymian does it early on after the housekeeper gets thrown out.
  • Footsie Under the Table: Another inmate does this to Thymian at the reformatory, and follows it with a wink.
  • Girls Behind Bars: Technically it's a reformatory, not a prison, but the girls are being held prisoner. As is typical for this trope, lesbian sex is being had.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: It's pouring as heartless Meinert throws Meta and her two little children out of the pharmacy. This allows for an artful shot in which Thymian watches from inside as rain hits the window.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Thymian, once She Cleans Up Nicely at the brothel.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Thymian does this for a few years after escaping from the reformatory. It's a very fancy brothel, with champagne and clients in tuxedoes.
  • High-Class Glass: Appropriately enough, one of the johns at the fancy brothel wears one of these.
  • Karma Houdini: Meinert rapes Thymian, and later throws Meta and her children out into the street after taking over the pharmacy. Nothing bad ever happens to him.
  • Knitting Pregnancy Announcement: Robert's maid shows him the baby sweater she's knitted. It doesn't help her avoid getting thrown out.
  • Kubrick Stare: Robert deploys one of these after seeing Thymian at a nightclub and realizing his daughter is now a fancy hooker.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Does the maid get pregnant by her boss? Of course. Does Thymian get pregnant after being raped by Meinert? Of course.
  • Miss Kitty: The grandmotherly operator of the high-class brothel. Being grandmotherly doesn't prevent her from arranging for Thymian to be drugged and raped.
  • Orderlies are Creeps: The master of the reformatory certainly acts like a creep around the girls.
  • Porn Stash: Meinert keeps nudie pictures among his papers while working at the pharmacy.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: Both times that Thymian is raped, by Meinert and later by the john at the brothel, the camera cuts away.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: This film does not sugarcoat it.
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: The master of the reformatory. He confiscates a tube of lipstick from a particularly pretty prisoner, then puts the lipstick on himself. Then he writes "Punish Erika" on his day calendar with the lipstick. Then he draws a heart.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Thymian has a drink placed in her hand. Everyone stares expectantly at her. She sips from it. Everybody at the party then surrounds her and watches. Thymian, who maybe isn't the brightest, downs the rest of the drink. Sure enough, she passes out later, and is raped by a john.
  • Time Skip: The film skips over three years that Thymian works at the brothel.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Raped. Impregnated. Imprisoned. Baby dies. Drugged, raped again. Three years as a prostitute. Husband kills himself.