Threepenny Opera

January 29th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Just watched the 1931 movie by G. W. Pabst and was utterly fascinated. The movie begins with a music piece that was familiar almost immediately to me, then I realized why: Tom Waits: “What Keeps Mankind Alive” (Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, & Bastards, Disc 3) So, I was drawn in to the movie almost immediately. In fact, I was amazed at how many of the songs I know without realizing it. It’s like reading Shakespeare and finding yourself staring at some cliche phrase you’ve heard a thousand times and then realize that this is where it came from. The fact that Brecht took this play from Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera is cool too. I read that in college and now am very much inspired to go back and read it again. (I must also admit to the humor of hearing it in German, and reading subtitles that refer to Soho and locations in London.)

My favorite scene, right now, is when Polly Peachum sings on her wedding night–against the backdrop of the moon and the ships.

One of the conventions in the movie, and I’ll have to check out Brecht’s play, is the narrator who periodically intervenes and provides foreshadowing. I think this is an interesting notion for a number of reasons, the best being tension. If your play is rolling and then a narrator steps in and talks about how Character A gets murdered, and Character A is currently alive, this 1) tells the audience what will happen and 2) makes them acutely aware that it will happen at some future point and they will tune in.

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