falderal : a moving images blog
Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) ; 1931  ·  Posted by Tallulah

Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst (G.W. Pabst)
Actors: Rudolf Forster, Carola Neher, Reinhold Schünzel, Fritz Rasp, Valeska Gert, Lotte Lenya, Hermann Thimig, Ernst Busch
Country: Germany

Aw, this entry is the final one for the Pabst marathon, boo~ I hope that I’ll be able to get my hands on his other films and post about them because he is amazing beyond words. If anyone has Pabst films they would like to write about, please read the “contribute” section on the sidebar! It would be great to have more entries on Pabst films.

This film is probably the oddest Pabst film I have watched. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it because I think that it’s a highly enjoyable and likable film, but it’s quite quirky. Even the beginning starts with a black screen with only Ernst Busch singing. When the film starts, it still confuses the viewer because it’s a shot of a man and a woman (who we later find out is Mackie Messer/Mack the Knife and Jenny) and then he wants to distance himself from her after he sees another woman walk by and then there is this whole scene for about 7 minutes or so when you have no idea who is who and what in the world is going on. Sorry for the run-on sentence! Maybe it was just me being dumb, but I was consistently thinking, “What is going on? Why is the screen black? Why do I only hear music? IS THIS DVD DEFUNCT?! Who is that man? WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HIM AND HER? IS HE GOING TO KILL HER?!” But in the end, I was content.

The film made me very confused because I liked Mackie Messer, but at the same time, I really wanted to hate him. I was amazed at Polly’s courageousness, wit, and calmness in every scene. If I knew that my husband was cheating on me only after a few days of marriage, I would be the raging psycho. But then again, Polly does have that song she sings on her wedding day so… (by the way, her wedding dress is beautiful. I was jealous.) Also, the song about Mackie Messer mentions all these horrible things that he did but it’s hard to imagine him doing such things. And what’s the whole thing with him and Jenny. I was very, very confused even after the second time watching it.

I absolutely ADORE all the songs in this film. I read that most songs from the actual play aren’t in the film and the context of the songs changed as well, but nonetheless, I think this film did a great job with the script and the placement of songs. I haven’t read or watched the play but I really enjoyed this film. I think it’s crucial for Brecht or Weill fans to embrace the film for what it is and not just as something that Brecht didn’t approve of or something that follows Brecht’s vision. Separate Brecht from this film and I think everyone would like it. While Brecht wanted a film that was more politically charged and a biting satire, I felt that Pabst’s film had a critique of everyone shown in the film. Whether you are poor, the petty bourgeois, or even in a high ranked position, everyone is corrupt. Even the whole idea of Peachum’s company is absolutely absurd and a satire within itself.

The actors of this film were great and the editing and direction of this film was perfect; I have no complaints about this film whatsoever. I love the way Mackie says, “Hello Jackie!” and Tiger Brown says, “Hello. Mackie.” Ah and the final shot! This film is so full of awesomeness that I can compile a huge list of things I like about it. I even liked Fritz Rasp as Peachum and I hated him in silent films! Two thumbs up and I would definitely put it on a list of films to watch before you die. Pabst, homeboy, you did me proud.

I just have to add as a side note that I’m incredibly sad that Carola Neher, who played Polly Peachum, wasn’t in more films and died prematurely BECAUSE OF MY PSEUDO-LOVER GUSTAV VON WANGENHEIM. She was amazing as Polly and I loved her to bits. For those who are like, “Huh?” about who Gustav von Wangenheim is, he’s mostly known to the general public as Hutter in F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu. DAMN YOU GUSTAV!!! And while I’m at this, Lotte Lenya, who played Jenny, is amazing as well. And, and, HOW CAN I FORGET HERMANN THIMIG! I have a silly crush on him because he is so adorable.

IMDb Link: Die Dreigroschenoper
Where to buy: Amazon.com

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