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MACK THE KNIFE - BRECHT'S THREEPENNY FILM (MACKIE MESSER - BRECHTS DREIGROSCHENFILM)

MACK THE KNIFE - BRECHT'S THREEPENNY FILM
© Wild Bunch Germany

Following the phenomenal worldwide success of The Threepenny Opera in 1928 in Berlin, cinema is trying to win over the author of the piece. But Bertolt Brecht is not willing to play by the film industry’s rules. His vision for the Threepenny Film is radical, uncompromising, political and pointed. He wants to make a completely new kind of film and knows that the production company will never agree to it. It is only interested in cashing in. While the London gangster Macheath’s fight with the head of the beggar’s mob Mr. Peachum begins to take shape in the film version in front of the author’s eyes, Brecht seeks the public dispute. He takes the production company to court in order to prove that their monetary interests are taking precedence over his right as author… a poet directs reality – that was unprecedented!

This film is a unique experiment, an attempt to rediscover an outstanding piece of world literature and to put it into a contemporary context. Lang connects his interpretation of the Threepenny story with the genesis of Brecht’s exposé for a Threepenny Film that has never been on screen. It takes the audience to Berlin during the Roaring Twenties in a framework plot that shows how the artists attempt to shoot a movie while confronting the film industry. The main plot is the Threepenny Film itself and takes us to an artificial London around 1900, to the city’s notorious criminal Mack the Knife and his fight against Peachum, the king of the beggars. The film ends in the 21st century. Everything that Brecht utters in the film are direct quotes from his complete oeuvre.

The screenplay is based on the "The Threepenny Opera" by Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill in collaboration with Elisabeth Hauptmann.


Joachim Lang was born in 1959 and is a German author, film director and documentary filmmaker. He has also staged plays in various theaters and was artistic director for the Brecht Festivals. His award-winning films include: IT WAS A VERY GOOD TIME, TO THINK IS TO CHANGE, THE REVUE OF GERMANY, THE ART OF LIVING, GEORGE, and MACK THE KNIFE - BRECHT'S THREEPENNY FILM.
Genre Biopic, Drama, History, Literature, Music, Theater
Category Feature
Year of Production 2018
Director Joachim Lang
Screenplay Joachim Lang
Cinematography David Slama
Cast Lars Eidinger, Tobias Moretti, Hannah Herzsprung, Joachim Król, Claudia Michelsen, Britta Hammelstein, Robert Stadlober, Peri Baumeister, Christian Redl
Producers Michael Souvignier, Till Derenbach
Co-Producers Sandra Dujmovic, Sebastian Schelenz, André Sommerlatte
Production Company Zeitsprung Pictures, in co-production with SWR, Velvet Films
Length 130 min
Format DCP, color, cs
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Dolby 5.1
Festivals Filmfest München 2018 (opening film), New York Jewish FF 2019, Golden Apricot IFF Yerevan 2019
Awards Gold World Medal NY Festivals Int. TV & Film Awards 2019
With backing from German Federal Film Fund, MFG Baden-Württemberg, Screen Flanders, Tax Shelter Belgium
German Distributor Wild Bunch Germany

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