The Magic Flute (Trollflöjten)
(1975) 135 mins
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto: Emanuel Schikaneder
Cinematography: Sven Nykvist
Production design: Henny Noremark
The Magic Flute is Ingmar Bergman’s film version of Mozart’s opera Die Zauberflöte. It was intended as a television production and was first shown on Swedish television on 1 January 1975, but was followed by a cinema release later that year. Far from attempting to open out the opera, Bergman was at pains to recreate the atmosphere of the original 1791 production at the Theater auf der Weiden in Vienna (even the dragon that pursues Tamino upstage is a delightful creature of felt and bunting). The Drottningholm Palace Theatre proved too fragile to accommodate a TV crew, so the stage was carefully reconstructed in the studios of the Swedish Film Institute.
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Showings of this film are part of our Cinematheque season which is supported by the British Film Institute.
“Bergman lets us see how the special effects work, he gives us backstage glimpses of the players hurrying to meet cues and relaxing during the intermission, and we’re reminded of the many other backstage scenes in his films. We’re supposed to be conscious of watching a performance, and yet at some level Bergman also wants Mozart’s fantasy to work as a story, a preposterous tale, and it does. This must be the most delightful film ever made from an opera.” Roger Ebert
“Ingmar Bergman’s film version of The Magic Flute is a blissful present, a model of how opera can be filmed. Bergman must have reached a new, serene assurance to have tackled this sensuous, luxuriant opera that has bewildered so many stage directors, and to have brought it off so unaffectedly. It’s a wholly unfussy production, with the bloom still on it.” Pauline Kael
“Despite the boxy limitations of a filmed live show, The Magic Flute showcases Bergman at his most playful and romantic. It’s the most fun you’ll have at an opera this side of Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny. No wonder the audience – glimpsed in individual tightly framed shots – seem enraptured.” The Irish Times