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Threepenny Opera

7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Rudolf Forster, Lotte Lenya, Carola Neher, Reinhold Schünzel, Fritz Rasp
  • Directors: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
  • Writers: Bertolt Brecht, Béla Balázs, Ladislaus Vajda, Léo Lania
  • Producers: Seymour Nebenzal
  • Format: Black & White, Digital Sound, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English, German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Sept. 18 2007
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000SFJ4KE
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,474 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

The sly melodies of composer Kurt Weill and the daring of dramatist Bertolt Brecht come together on-screen under the direction of German auteur G. W. Pabst (Pandora's Box) in this classic adaptation of the Weimar-era theatrical sensation. Set in the impoverished back alleys of Victorian London, The Threepenny Opera follows underworld antihero Mackie Messer (a.k.a. Mack the Knife) as he tries to woo Polly Peachum and elude the authorities. With its palpable evocation of corruption and dread, set to Weill's irresistible score, The Threepenny Opera remains a benchmark of early sound cinema. It is presented here in both its celebrated German and rare French versions.

This 1931 film puts one of the musical theatre masterpieces of the 20th century--a slashing attack on greed, violence, and social pretension--in the visual and musical context of its origins. Musically, it omits some of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's numbers and gives to others a softer edge than the hard-hitting music took on in the last half of the century. The 1931 singers, including Weill's wife and definitive interpreter Lotte Lenya, tend to croon numbers that are snarled or barked in the definitive audio recording Lenya made and supervised in the 1950s. A comparison of the 1931 "Pirate Jenny" song, for example, with the recording a quarter-century later shows how performing styles toughened after World War II.

For those interested in performance history, this is a priceless document. For those looking for a dramatic experience, it has less impact than it would have if it were made today, but it still has plenty. This print is considerably sharper than some copies that were available before digital remastering was perfected. --Joe McLellan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

By A Customer on Nov. 24 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I've seen the movie version of this, one of the best scores and scripts created in the "musical theatre genre." While Lotte Lenya and the supporting cast are very good, this version is hardly true to Brecht or his style. Apparently Brecht did not understand that by selling the screen rights to the script, he was also giving the producers liscence to do whatever the wanted with it - and he had no power over it. The endind is notably changed from any translation you are likely to find in print, and few of the best songs remain - as a matter of fact, i recall only about four or five songs in the film verison. Mr. And Mrs. Peachum, while wonderfully portrayed, are far from the middle-class underlords we love them to be - they were a mismatched pair, Mrs. Peachum in a fabulous dress, and drop earings, and Peachum looking like one of his beggars. A interesting note, though: MacHeath's gang are adorable, fun and very will played!
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Format: VHS Tape
This is a far cry from the stage version with not only several songs missing but what seems to be a rewrite of the script and book. The acting is pre-1931--as one history of cinema puts its, a style we will never see again--and the film techniques are from the silent days. But it has some powerful moments, mostly when the Streetsinger is on screen. Among the visual highlights are the confrontation of the Army of Poor with the Queen (who looks too old to be Victoria), the marriage of Polly and Mack among the purloined furniture and trappings, and the marvelous resolution of the ex-police chief Brown, Mack, and Peachem becoming "respectable" bankers (i.e., thieves). So this is worth a good deal as a social document is but is not worth much as a musical event. (Question: if all the signs of the shops are in English, why do the Poor carry signs in German?)
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By A Customer on April 3 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Considering Brecht was very displeased with this film its no wonder it bears little resemblance to the stage version,flat performances ( including Lenya who must have been amazing on stage), the omission of half the score ,including solomon song, tango duet,and the lucy role altogether, the ending being changed,omitting the hanging and reprival, and poor subtitles make this a curious but ininspired production. even the time period is wrong,victoria became queen in 1832 not the 1890s! still as a film that set all of nazi germany into a flutter it has moments of great social commentary. no as many as the masterpiece stage production however.
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Format: VHS Tape
The video was re-assembled from pieces of the film which the Nazis tried to destroy (along with all printed copies of the score) during their rise to power. The performances are amazing and convey very well what Brecht and Weill were trying to show--that what had been bad was now socially and politically acceptable and what was good is now ineffective. Lotte Lenya is truly amazing as Jenny, a character she created on the stage in the premiere of the work. One who is interested in this period of history must see this video!
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