The Magic Flute

(Trollflöjten)
Sweden 1975. Dir: Ingmar Bergman. 135 min. DCP

Bergman once declared that he would rather lose his sight than lose his hearing, so great was his love of music. His sumptuous screen version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (a project he long dreamed of realizing) is a pure joy — and one of the great opera films. Sung in Swedish (here with English subtitles), and shot in an impressive studio reconstruction of Stockholm’s historic Drottningholm Palace Theatre, Bergman’s radiant movie relates the bewitching tale of Tamino, a young prince who sets out to rescue Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, from the clutches of the sorcerer Sarastro. The film deftly adds audience reaction shots and ironic backstage scenes to its staging of Mozart’s romantic fantasy; Bergman respects the theatricality of the original while also making effective use of cinema’s sense of intimacy. “A marvel ... Mozart’s opera was the perfect vehicle for Bergman’s combination of symbolism, seriousness, and mischief” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian).


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