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Max von Sydow
Don Juan is sent from Hell to Earth with a highly important mission - to seduce a 20-years virgin for spoiling her pure wedding. The mission becomes crazy when Don Juan falls in love for the first time in his centuries-old lover's career.
The Queen of the Night offers her daughter Pamina to Tamino, but he has to bring her back from her father and priest Sarastro. She gives a magic flute to Tamino and magic bells to the bird hunter Papageno, who follows Tamino and wants to find a wife. The duo travels in a journey of love and knowledge.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
an uncommonly heartwarming film from Ingmar Bergman, splendid music and footage
The Magic Flute is a special kind of movie that may work better for fans of Mozart, or work better for fans of Bergman. And in general if you like opera it might hit your 'wow' button as being something different. Before getting to it, I was almost taken aback as I watched it, as I thought perhaps Bergman had picked this opera due it being incredibly tragic or emotionally draining (as I didn't know much about the opera aside from it being a Mozart one).
It turns out this might be one of the only operas- maybe THE only- one I would consider ever watching again, or even hearing. As I'm not that big a fan of the kind of music (unless it's being done by Visconti on film or Woody's Match Point), it was a pleasant surprise to see Bergman make the opera right on the stage, putting all the artifice where it belongs. The very beginning of the film is particularly striking and interesting, with all of the close-ups suggesting this could be something different than it is- maybe something more 'heavy'- as it is once again lensed by Sven Nyvkist. But it isn't; this, along with Smiles of a Summer Night, are the most light-hearted films ever made by the usually tragic and introspective filmmaker.
Mozart's tale is that of any given fairy tale, the kind that you either give yourself completely to as when you were a kid or not much at all. Sometimes one of the problems that comes when I try and watch an opera is really 'getting' a story out of it when I'm more focused on the singing and pageantry. But Mozart's story is simple enough- about a man (Tamino, played by Josef Kostlinger) trying to find a woman (Pamina played by Irma Urrilla) who has been offered to her by her mother the Queen, even as a bird hunter follows him.
It could be a possible deterrent, too, with having the opera in total Swedish (sometimes glancing down at the words, all simple to a level little children might sign at), but I didn't mind that much either after a while. This is partly due to Bergman and Nykvist (and the production design and costumes and such, all lending to the more wonderful theatrical productions that Bergman was always capable of) keeping a good, lush hold on the production values and mood. But it's also due to the performers being rather good in their archetypal roles.
Along with this, Bergman incorporates this as being a production going on by once in a while going backstage as the opera goes through its motions, more or less, with ease. It's a nice send-up to have that, as Bergman recognizes that through all of the cheesy bits of sets and lights, the actors are really what counts. And, of course, the filmmaker also shows a genuine affection for the music, and it becomes one of Mozart's most memorable, lively pieces at different points, providing moving melodies and songs, and even some doses of comedy with the couple Papageno and Papagena.
It might not be for those who just can't take opera or classical music, and it might be strange for some Bergman fans to see right after Cries and Whispers or Shame. But if you give yourself to the material, and realize how beautiful escapist it can be, Bergman still kicks in his own style, without too much getting in the way, and it often fits together without conflict. A-
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