The Magic Flute
Ingmar Bergman had a lifelong passion for Mozart’s Magic Flute since seeing it on stage as a 12-year-old boy, and attempting to mount his own puppet theatre edition back at home (a plan thwarted because he couldn’t afford a complete recording of the opera). Four decade later he was finally able to realise his dream, directing it for Swedish television in a mock up of Stockholm’s baroque Drottningholm Theatre. The film was screened in cinemas across the globe and became one of Bergman’s most beloved works.
"Absolutely dazzling film entertainment, so full of beauty, intelligence, wit, and fun that it becomes a testimonial not only to man’s possibilities but also to his high spirits. All of the best Bergman films have been about some aspect of love (often its absence), but The Magic Flute is virtually an act of it. It is, first and foremost, Mr. Bergman’s exuberant tribute to Mozart’s genius, with full, amused recognition of the inconsistencies in the Schikaneder libretto. Mr. Bergman hasn’t set out to interpret The Magic Flute but rather to present it as it originally was, bursting with the life of an exquisite stage production as it would look within the physical limitations of an eighteenth-century court theatre."
– Vincent Canby, The New York Times
"Ingmar Bergman said that making this film ’was the best time of my life: you can’t imagine what it is like to have Amadeus Mozart’s music in the studio every day.’ Actually, watching the movie, one can. He has treated Mozart’s peerlessly silly masterpiece with elegance and supreme affection. He emphasizes the theatricality of the piece, using space as stage space but with the camera coming in close. We get the pixilated feeling that we’re near enough to touch the person who is singing; we might be dreamers sailing invisibly among the guests at a cloud-borne party. The English translation of Bergman’s adaptation (he clarifies the text) has considerable grace, and the titles are unusually well placed in the frame; the story comes across even more directly than when you hear the opera sung in English."
– Pauline Kael