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The Threepenny Opera

Screening on Film
Directed by G. W. Pabst.
With Rudolf Forster, Carola Neher, Reinhold Schünzel.
Germany, 1931, 35mm, black & white, 112 min.
German with English subtitles.

In 1929, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill were engaged to adapt their successful transposition of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera to the screen. Brecht wanted to give the film more anti-bourgeois bite than the stage version. His changes proved too strong for his capitalist producers--Brecht sued them and lost. Also lost were some of the songs and the disenchanted irony which was replaced by charm. A mix of realism and stylized settings, the performances and wonderful score and lyrics nevertheless retain much of the pungency of the original.

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