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  • Mozart - The Magic Flute [VHS]
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Mozart - The Magic Flute [VHS]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ulrik Cold, Josef Köstlinger, Irma Urrila, Håkan Hagegård, Elisabeth Erikson
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Writers: Ingmar Bergman, Alf Henrikson, Emanuel Schikaneder
  • Producers: Måns Reuterswärd
  • Format: Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Homevision
  • VHS Release Date: September 26, 1995
  • Run Time: 135 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303595731
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,905 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ingmar Bergman's Magic Flute is a magical adaptation of Mozart's last opera. The tale of two star-crossed lovers--and an impish man whose greatest desire is to find a wife--unfolds through Mozart's glorious score. With all the urgency of a live performance, it is the most successful popularization of an opera to date.

Ingmar Bergman's vision of The Magic Flute (sung here in Swedish) remains oneof the indisputable classics in the opera-as-film catalog, its charm and enchantment undiminished since the film's initial release in the 1970s. This is a case not of competition between two geniuses (and two media) but of affirmative, graceful, and enlightening synergy. Instead of simply filming a staged run-through of the opera, Bergman chooses to play with the framework around such a performance (given in Stockholm's elegant Drottningholm Theatre)--and he moreover rearranges the order of the scenes in the final act. Intermittent shots of audience reactions--including those of a young girl infectiously involved in the story--and sudden, psychologically probing close-up angles result in a richly textured, multilayered effect.

Certainly Bergman renders the fairy-tale aspects of Mozart's mise-en-scène with such buoyant detail that the film makes an excellent entrée both for youngsters and for anyone who is uneasy about how to approach an opera. Yet there is much food for thought to be savored by the already initiated as well. One of Bergman's more brilliant interventions is to depict Sarastro and the Queen of the Night as a divorced couple engaged in a bitter battle over daughter Pamina. The director supplies plenty of energetic wit and arabesques of allusion (in addition to his Prospero-like demeanor, the high priest Sarastro is shown at one point during the intermission perusing the score of Parsifal), and--as might be expected of one of film's greatest symbolists--teases out the opera's weightier allegorical levels with hauntingly beautiful effect. Brilliant chiaroscuro and contrasted lighting patterns, for example, offer ongoing visual commentary on the contest between darkness and light. The cast is exceptionally photogenic, their abundant youth and obvious chemistry more than compensating for the often no-more-than-mediocre vocal performances (with the exception of Håkan Hagegård's utterly disarming, still-fresh portrayal of Papageno). For a desert-island audio recording, try Thomas Beecham. --Thomas May

Customer Reviews

This way, Bergman makes opera a dramatic experience.
Rachel Garret
The Swedish is so close to the German that it was no detriment.
Robert D. Stiles
I own it on VHS, and I'm going to buy the DVD right now!
B. Goldman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

172 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Thomas F. Bertonneau on March 9, 2001
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
About Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman's 1974 film-version of Mozart's fairy-tale opera "The Magic Flute" ("Trollflöjten" in Swedish), I am probably unable to be objective. I saw it when it came out, when I was in my second year as a student of Germanic and Scandinavian languages at UCLA. The girl I took to see it on the night that it opened at the Avco cinemas on Westwood Boulevard was baffled by it. She made it perfectly clear that she had no interest in dating me again. But my mother liked it when I insisted that she accompany me to see it, and so did my sister. Two years ago, when my son turned four, I ordered the VHS edition and introduced the lad to it; he responded immediately, was deeply impressed by the antics of Håken Hågegård's Papageno, and has been humming the tunes ever since. Recently I showed it to the students in my "Critical Philosophical Problems" class at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. The Criterion DVD of Bergman's production is the best home-version yet. What is it that makes this the most endearing cinematic or video representation of Mozart's opera? Bergman filmed in the baroque Drottningsholmtheater in Stockholm. He exploits the wonderful charm of eighteenth century stagecraft and fosters the illusion that we are indeed witnessing a repertory traversal of "The Magic Flute" in a public venue. During the Overture, for example, we see the many faces in the audience, including a little girl (said to be Bergman's daughter) whose changing expression becomes the touchstone for onlooker-response during the two acts. On the other hand, we are aware that we are not really viewing some haphazard filming of a performance in the style of PBS at the Met. For the most part, Bergman takes us inside the action so that we forget the presence of stage and audience.Read more ›
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Dan Sherman VINE VOICE on June 11, 2000
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Director Bergman has given us a charming film production of Mozart's Magic Flute that is set to be a modern-day staging of the opera in an small, old opera house. The staging is low-tech (no lasers) and represents what one may have seen when this fairy-tale opera was produced in the early 1800s. Shots of the stage action are interspersed with backstage scenes of characters reading, adjusting their costumes, etc.
This is a Magic Flute that draws you into its world. The staging in enjoyable but is no way distracting from the music. This is a nicely balanced "Flute" with the comedy of Papageno/Papagena very well played along the more serious scenes with Sarastro and the priests. It is a film version that both children and adults will like -- I saw it as a teen many years ago and have loved opera ever since.
This is definitely a DVD to own, though there really are no special features on DVD, other than the ability to switch the subtitles off (the opera is sung in Swedish). The sound on the DVD is very good, though the picture is not partcularly sharp. The DVD is well indexed, though, so it is easy to find favorite scenes.
A definite buy!
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 9, 2005
Format: DVD
I saw this film in 1975, three days after it opened in Boston. I had no idea it was an opera, but being a filmmaker I'd seen all of Bergman's films. I thought it was the most wonderfull thing I had ever heard and seen. Because of this film I have enjoyed a thirty year love affair with opera. I have this DVD and I watch it at least once a year. I have seen many versions of The Magic Flute, but this remains my favorite. If Mozart were alive I think he would agree.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Garret on January 20, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
The Magic Flute, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's last opera, is a multi-layered Singspiel opera that is accessible to children as well as adults. It is an allegory of good versus evil, layed with Freemason ideals, and scored by Mozart's most sublime music. Ingmar Bergman filmed a live performance in a Stockholm theater in Sweden. The singers are singing in Swedish, not its original German, and the camera provides glimpses of going ons backstage and shots of the audience, focusing especially on a red-haired girl who is deeply engaged in the opera. This way, Bergman makes opera a dramatic experience. At times, it feels as if we are not watching an opera at all, but a play. The Swedish cast is fresh, energetic and engages the audience in the fabulous story. The story should be familiar to opera buffs. Tamino, a lost prince, finds he has been commissioned to save a beautiful princess, Pamina, from the clutches of a supposed evil wizard, Sarastro, and return her to her mother the Queen of the Night. As the opera progresses, we discover that Tamino has been deceived and he is, in essence, "shown the light" of truth through the aid of the enlightened religious order of Sarastro's men. The Queen, Pamina's mother, is the villain, bent on dominating the earth, and Sarastro, Pamina's father, is a benevolent holy man who intendes to foil the dark queen's plans. The custody battle over Pamina is true to the Mozart allegory. He had Pamina represent Austria, Sarastro, the "father", was the wise ideals of Freemasonry, while the "mother" Queen of the Night is the suppression and censorship of Freemasonry by imperialist autocrats like the Empress Teresa, whom the Queen is modeled after.
Superb singing. The arias "Dies Bildnis", in which Tamino looks at a portrait of Pamina and falls in love, is well made.
Read more ›
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