Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Merola Goes To The Movies: The Magic Flute

Image source: The Criterion Collection website

Come join us this Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 1:00 PM for our next Merola Goes to the Movies widescreen video, a screening Trollflöjten - Ingmar Bergman's film adaptation of Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Bergman's film was created for Swedish television who first broadcast it on New Year's Day in 1975.  It received its theatrical release on January 2, 1975. The Magic Flute held great meaning for the director.  In a May 5, 1962 interview for Opera News May 5, 1962, he remarked:
To me the most alluring and difficult opera ever written is Mozart's Magic Flute.  Nothing interests me more than this work; it offers a director more hurdles than any other opera.
In setting this work, Bergman tried to recreate the atmosphere of Mozart's time.  He chose Stockholm's 18th century Drottningholm Court Theater as a model, which he reconstructed in the Swedish Film Institute's studios.

In a memoir Bergman wrote:
In my imagination I have always seen The Magic Flute living inside that old theater, in that keenly acoustical wooden box, with its slanted stage floor, its backdrops and wings.  Here lies the noble, magical illusion of theater.  Nothing is; everything represents.  The moment the curtain is raised, an agreement between stage and audience manifests itself.  And now. together, we'll create!
He also recalled the cinematic effect he was aiming to create:
My main goal was to portray as intimately as possible the characters in the fairy tale.  The magic and the scenic details happening as if only in passing: Suddenly they're in a palace courtyard; suddenly it is snowing; suddenly there is a prison wall; suddenly it's spring.
In Magill's Survey of Cinema, Rick Shale wrote that:
The result is a romantic and comic masterpiece full of naïve charm and theatrical nostalgia, a film entertaining to both Mozart purists and filmgoers unfamiliar with opera. At the time of its release in 1975, critics generally regarded it as the most successful adaptation of opera yet filmed.
Vincent Canby, in his ecstatic New York Times review of November 16, 1975, wrote:
Bergman's love for "The Magic Flute" is both protective and illuminating. ... [H]e persuades us to appreciate the opera the way he does.  Not only do we see it, but we hear it, and we come out of the theater feeling years younger for it.
As you can see you will be in for a musical and a visual treat.  Join the us and the Merola Opera Program this Saturday a screening of Ingmar Bergman's The Magic Flute at 1:00 PM in the Koret Auditorium.  The film lasts 135 minutes and will be preceded by a short talk.  All programs at the Library are free and open to the public.

Reading list:

Images: My Life in Film by Ingmar Bergman (Arcade Pub., 1994).

Magill's Survey of Cinema, Foreign Language Films (Salem Press, 1985).

The New York Times Film Reviews (New York Times, 1975-6).

Ingmar Bergman: Film and Stage by Robert Emmet Long (H.N. Abrams, 1994).

No comments: