28 June 2013 | lreynaert
First grub, then morals
G.W. Pabst's version of 'The 3penny Opera' is simply sublime with a formidable casting and a magnificent cast with: Ernst Busch as a street singer, Carola Neher, who died in a soviet prison, as Polly and Lotte Lenya as Jenny. The mass scenes (without the help of computer games) are nothing less than masterful. But, above all are the texts of Bertolt Brecht and the magical songs by Kurt Weill; just delicious stuff.
This eternal masterpiece doesn't paint a rosy picture of human affairs, with a city (pars pro toto – the world) in the hands of people with shark teeth, venal civil servants and a corrupt police force. Bertolt Brecht formulates in simple words the rules of the game, the basics of human society: first grub, then morals. If the primary conditions for human survival (food, safety) are not available, then there is absolutely no ground for any kind of morality. For Bertolt Brecht, in a 'free for all' society the poor, the vast majority of the population, can only survive by (organized) begging and stealing, by dirty works ('Missetat'). After fighting one another, the crime bosses find a far better solution for the consolidation of their power. They make a super deal, pool their resources and create a financial syndicate of criminals, in other words, a bank, with the former corrupt police chief as CEO. What an awesome prophetic idea! With brilliant theatrical histrionics and a perfect 'London' atmosphere, G.W. Pabst shot an ageless movie masterpiece based on an everlasting opera. A must see.