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Ingmar Bergman puts his indelible stamp on Mozart's exquisite opera in this sublime rendering of one of the composer's best-loved works: a celebration of love, forgiveness, and the brotherhood of man. The Magic Flute (Trollflöjten) stars Josef Köstlinger as Tamino, the young man determined to rescue a beautiful princess from the clutches of parental evil. Criterion's edition features the film's glorious soundtrack in the original stereo format.
Ingmar Bergman's vision of The Magic Flute (sung here in Swedish) remains one of the indisputable classics in the opera-as-film catalog, its charm and enchantment undiminished since the film's initial release in the 1970s. This is a case not of competition between two geniuses (and two media) but of affirmative, graceful, and enlightening synergy. Instead of simply filming a staged run-through of the opera, Bergman chooses to play with the framework around such a performance (given in Stockholm's elegant Drottningholm Theatre)--and he moreover rearranges the order of the scenes in the final act. Intermittent shots of audience reactions--including those of a young girl infectiously involved in the story--and sudden, psychologically probing close-up angles result in a richly textured, multilayered effect.
Certainly Bergman renders the fairy-tale aspects of Mozart's mise-en-scène with such buoyant detail that the film makes an excellent entrée both for youngsters and for anyone who is uneasy about how to approach an opera. Yet there is much food for thought to be savored by the already initiated as well. One of Bergman's more brilliant interventions is to depict Sarastro and the Queen of the Night as a divorced couple engaged in a bitter battle over daughter Pamina. The director supplies plenty of energetic wit and arabesques of allusion (in addition to his Prospero-like demeanor, the high priest Sarastro is shown at one point during the intermission perusing the score of Parsifal), and--as might be expected of one of film's greatest symbolists--teases out the opera's weightier allegorical levels with hauntingly beautiful effect. Brilliant chiaroscuro and contrasted lighting patterns, for example, offer ongoing visual commentary on the contest between darkness and light. The cast is exceptionally photogenic, their abundant youth and obvious chemistry more than compensating for the often no-more-than-mediocre vocal performances (with the exception of Håkan Hagegård's utterly disarming, still-fresh portrayal of Papageno). For a desert-island audio recording, try Thomas Beecham. --Thomas May --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
No, I didn't like it. Bergman totally ignores the Masonic background of the opera; the sets are unimaginative, sometimes seem more intended for a film; the continuous shots of... Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2013 by Mark A Badior
It arrived on time and in good condition. A truly good buy. I enjoyed it very much. I have used it as an introduction to the opera for my grand children.Published on Jan. 29 2013 by Nana67
this is a wonderful production that is very difficult to fine elsewhere. For the Mozart amateurs this is a trip back in time with a different view of the Magic Flute.Published on March 4 2010 by A. Lamoureux
I can't fathom all of the positive reviews. The singers who perform Tamino and the Queen of the Night are very weak - I can't tolerate singers who can't sing in tune.Published on Feb. 17 2009 by True North
I try to attend a production of this opera as many times as I am able and since I first saw this film in the 1970's, I have considered it to be the most enlightened and... Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2006 by Jeanette Ireland
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This film which can best described as an operetta, is based on the opera of the same name by Mozart. Read more
No other director is the history of the medium had the balls to something like that.And no other director in the history of medium broke all the rules,so often,like Ingmar... Read morePublished on May 15 2004
I have watched several live Magic Flute productions and a few other video productions. And this is THE WORST EVER. Read morePublished on Feb. 16 2004
I was inspired to return to this version of Mozart's joyous singspiel by a recent televised version from a major opera house(whose name I shall not state in the possibly forlorn... Read morePublished on Jan. 9 2004 by L. E. Cantrell