Friday, August 19, 2005

The Magic Flute (Bergman, 1975)

Bergman -- known primarily for his heavy, philosophical dramas -- might seem like an odd choice to direct Mozart's playful affirmation of the power of love and light in the face of darkness, but the result is simply splendid. Though some director trademarks remain, Bergman mostly uses a gentle touch, allowing the camera to alternate between shots which emphasize the source material's theatrical roots (as we observe hokey scene changes, backstage interactions, etc.) and intimate shots which plunge us into the fairy tale world of dragons, magic and lovers willing to face death to be together. If we were to read the plot synopsis on paper, we might scoff, but through penetrating close-ups and direct audience address, Bergman discourages the sort of off-putting distance that (in my opinion) opera can frequently create. Well worth watching.



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