Thursday, November 25, 2010

#71: The Magic Flute

(Ingmar Bergman, 1975)

Let's be realistic here. I tried to keep an open mind, but there was really no way I was going to like this movie.The only thing I appreciate about opera is the grand spectacle experienced first-hand, so transitioning to filmed performance ruins any energy I may have fed off of in the rendition of Mozart's work.

Bergman loved classical music, so it's no surprise to see him literally take a stab at the genre here. Filmmakers of Bergman's generation were still around for the tail end of the glory days of the stage - there are few great directors of the current generation who have the same appreciation for the medium. Since I am of the latter generation, it's not surprising that I wouldn't have the same reaction to this film that I might have had I been born a few decades earlier.

This might seem like a surprising thing to say to people who do love the stage considering the fact that Mozart's opera was originally written hundreds of years ago; surely a few decades cannot erase what a few hundred years couldn't? Yet this is the power of film and television, which have effectively replaced the cultural significance of theater, while only popular music concerts (and, to a lesser degree, stand up and improv comedy) have remained socially relevant as live performance.

Bergman does make an attempt to turn Mozart's work into a cinematic piece, using engaging camera angles and shots of audience members far more enraptured than I was. But ultimately this is still just Mozart's The Magic Flute. If you like that, you'll like this. I don't, so I didn't.

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