Cinema simply different


Hell breaks loose in London’s underground when gang leader Mackie Messer wants to marry the daughter of Peachum, the boss of the beggars. The alliances formed between gangsters, police and banks seem surprising at first sight. Yet from Bertolt Brecht’s and Kurt Weill’s critical perspective on capitalism, those alliances are evident. While some people show their murder weapons openly, others don’t.

The Threepenny Opera was the most successful play during the Weimar Republic and therefore quickly became of interest to the film industry. Even before appearing in theatres in 1931, the film created a huge scandal: As Brecht exacerbated the political approach in the drafts of the script, the film studios accused him of breaching the contract and requested a new script. Brecht himself then filed a lawsuit against these „shameless mutilations“ of the play, which ended in a spectacular legal process. Ironically, the visual adaptation of a play, which already is a critical reflection on the sense of justice, let to the hearing on the basic legal question: Where does the author’s right of co-determination end when a play is adapted as a film?

Georges Felten, Senior assistant at the German Department, UZH

Übersetzung: Lucia Arnold


Other films in this program