The Beggar's Opera

“The Beggar's Opera is a many-leveled satire. John Gay satirized not only the familiar heroics and absurdities of Italian opera, but the politics of the day. Although the story is a mordant mixture of Hogarthian corruption and revels out of Breughel, this production does not emphasize what I suppose it's customary to call the latent savagery of the materal. Arthur Bliss arranged the score so that we come out humming the light, sweet airs; Christopher Fry adapted the text freely, retaining the mocking, raffish spirit - but only for our pleasure. It is unrealistic in style, brilliant, unabashed theatricality, choreographed chases and betrayals and captures, the elegant march to the gallows, the dazzling, macabre ballet under the titles at the end as the prisoners and jailers whirl midst their stocks and irons. Most movie directors attempt to conceal their artifice in a realistic surface; here, artifice is used with the carefree delight and audacity of early Douglas Fairbanks films - delight in the film medium.”

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.