Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#405: The Threepenny Opera

(G. W. Pabst, 1931)

As I've mentioned before, musicals are not my thing, so it takes a lot for me to really connect with one. Unfortunately, despite its many charms and obviously impressive visual qualities, The Threepenny Opera did not reach this threshold.

I'm not really sure why this is the case. I enjoyed Pabst's other Criterion entry, Pandora's Box, much more than I expected to, while the German expressionistic style was put to great use in the early talkie years with films like M. Both Pabst's personal style and the larger aesthetic of German filmmaking are apparent here, in a film based on the hit opera that spawned the jazz standard "Mack the Knife." And there's great sly humor here from the corrupt mayor, the bitter father, and the various criminal underlings. But the film takes some time to get rolling, and the sets felt small and stagy. It's also weird to hear people talking in German about being English, but it's not like American films haven't sufficiently avenged this quirk. It's just not for me, I guess.

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