Top positive review
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A charming interpretation
on 8 February 2012
I was doing a talk on various interpretations of Mozart's Magic Flute and remembered seeing Bergman's version a long time ago, and it remained in the memory, why? Well Bergman clearly loved the work and it shows, of course Bergman was also a film maker and that shows as well!
Set in a period theatre the ambience resembles what original audiences might have experienced and this apparently naive look, may, at first, appear simple but with Bergman's skills it is by no means unsophisticated and allows the magic of the Magic Flute to display itself, rather than the "look at MY directorial cleverness" too often apparent, Bergman allows Mozart and Shikanaders work to speak for itself.
Bergman's only real indulgence is to, occasionally, show that he is filming a performance and a setting of a performance, in a contemporary theatre.
Bergman does suggest that Sarastro and the Queen of the Night are actually husband and wife, but this interpretation is not entirely unknown.
Technical quality wise the overall sharpness is a little 'soft' probably due to the age of the original and really the only reason it was not a 5 star. It is also in Swedish rather than the original German but the 'fit' of the words, to my ears, was fine.
To sum up if you want a version that is probably the truest to the original in setting, made with charm and an intense love for the work and its themes, this is the one. It may even make some other versions seem excruciatingly over indulgent by directors seeking to make a name for themselves.