The Threepenny Opera (The Criterion Collection)

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The sly melodies of composer Kurt Weill and the daring of dramatist Bertolt Brecht come together onscreen 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, Pabst’s Threepenny Opera remains a benchmark of early sound cinema. It is presented here in both its celebrated German and rare French versions.

Note: The aspect ratio of this production is 1.19:1. This specifc ratio is particularly rare as it was used only in Germany prior to World War II, and has not been widely used since.

Product Details

  • Actors: Lotte Lenya, Rudolf Forster
  • Directors: G.W. Pabst
  • Format: Multiple Formats, NTSC, Black & White, Dolby, Digital Sound, Subtitled
  • Language: English, German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: September 18, 2007
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • ASIN: B000SFJ4KE
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Customer Reviews

"The rich of this world have no qualms about causing misery but can’t stand the sight of it." And there’s a happy ending.

87 people found this helpful.
 on October 1, 2007
By C. O. DeRiemer
“You gents who to a virtuous life would lead us

a fine Weimar era classic

51 people found this helpful.
 on September 25, 2007
By Ted
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

Great Film…but the extras….

19 people found this helpful.
 on February 16, 2008
By tobb delow
The film is wonderful. The restoration of the print is shockingly beautiful. I have seen the film many times before, but watching this version was like seeing a whole new film.

A Long-Awaited Restoration

13 people found this helpful.
 on October 25, 2007
By John D. Steyers
I have been waiting for a quality restoration for DVD of this masterpiece for a long time. As usual, Criterion Collection does not disappoint. It should be made clear from the outset, though, that this is definitely Pabst’s cinematic reworking of “Threepenny Opera”, and not really the work as Brecht intended it. Indeed, it is well-known that Brecht fought Pabst’s interpretation fiercely, and was barred from the set of the film. Still, most of the score is still present, superbly performed, with Brecht’s incomparably acerbic lyrics intact. {Brecht’s poetry in general and his song lyrics in particular have never been satisfactorily translated, and can be fully appreciated only in German.) The major link in this film between Brecht’s original concept and Pabst’s version is surely the presence of Lotte Lenya, whose performance (particularly of “Seeraeuberjenny”} is well worth the price of the DVD all by itself!

Ausgezeichnete Film

15 people found this helpful.
 on February 18, 1999
By Amazon Customer
Considering its age, and the sheer fact of it’s survival in spite of the Nazi’s destruction of all copies they could find, it is an interesting and impressive piece. Since this was made close to the time that Weil and Brecht wrote the piece, I think it is closer to the rubrick than later versions. My only problem was that, as is often the case, the subtitles bore little or no resemblance to what was actually being sugn.

Great despite poor quality of re-assembled film segments

10 people found this helpful.
 on January 12, 1999
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!

If you don’t like the changes from the play, blame Brecht!

11 people found this helpful.
 on January 28, 2008
By NovelReader
Several other reviewers here have complained about the substantial differences between the movie and Brecht’s stage version. If you review the bonus materials that come with this lovely Criterion edition, you’ll learn that the main reason that the film is so different is that Brecht himself made vast changes to his own play after he was hired to be the screenwriter (so many changes, in fact, that he ended up getting fired and sued by the film’s producers, who had wanted the movie to track the hit stage version). Nevertheless, even though Brecht ended up at war with the filmmakers, most of the variations that exist between the film and the stageplay are based on changes Brecht himself made as a screenwriter.

GREAT film, GREAT edition

11 people found this helpful.
 on March 15, 2008
By Daniel Ruf
Though the movie is way off from what Brecht intended in his

Please Buy This

17 people found this helpful.
 on August 28, 2007
By moe armstrong
I saw this on an obscure VHS tape. Fantastic. Never had I seen Brecht done so well. Smooth and Jagged. This film was haunting me for years. Never thought that I could see it again. Wham!!!! Criterion does it again. I am sure that the picture will be great. I have yet to purchase on dismal video image from Criterion.

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