Hailed by many as the "finest screen version of an opera ever produced", Ingmar Bergman's The Magic Flute is something that is guaranteed to hold through several viewings. Cinematic master Sven Nykvist and only the finest Nordic singers of its time contribute to this fabulous production of Mozart's opera. Bergman, an accomplished organist and musicologist, lovingly brings one of the most intimate and joyful operas to life... as his personal peaen to classical music. Some 25 years ago, Bergman had the idea to evoke the original 1791 production of The Magic Flute in an anniversary of the Swedish Radio. Having originally planned to shoot it at the theatre in Drottingholm Palace, he had found that the delicate sets could in no way accommodate a film crew. He then decided to move production to the studios of the Swedish Film Institute. Henny Noremark and her team replicated the original theatre to the most innocuous stage device. Meanwhile, Bergman and conductor Eric Ericson, using what is known as the playback method, prerecorded the audio, later to be played over the visual. The actors concentrated more then on acting, etc.. Bergman spent many hours carefully editing so that the sung words would be in perfect time with the actor's mouth. He made sure that all of the dynamics and tempi were perfect.
could go on about this movie for a long time. Rarely does one see a movie that has such visual flair and sincere emotions that it fills the viewer with so much excitement. It is Excellent in that way. However, as any movie, it has its own shortcomings. The Overture, though different from any I've seen, becomes tedious, and Bergman's message in that sequence becomes immediately obvious. This edition is Not for Mozart purists. It is performed in Swedish, with many bits of dialogue filtered out, as I have heard. There are some sing-along moments that take away from the film's energy, but it is, for the most part, charming. out of
Theatrical Release: January 1st - 1975 - Sweden (television premiere)
DVD Review: Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Criterion Collection - Spine # 71 - Region 0 - NTSC|
Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.72 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||Swedish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby)|
page liner notes
This may be, dare I say, Criterion worst image - certainly in the bottom 10. Taken from television standard, its highlights are the stereo score in uncompressed PCM. NOTE: Due to an authoring error on the first printing of Criterion’s The Magic Flute, the left and right audio tracks are reversed. This flaw has been corrected on all subsequent printings of this DVD.
RE: The Stereo effect: It is almost as if the sound effects were designed with DVD technology in mind. Atmospheric details such as footsteps approaching across the stage, Papageno's chewing of cakes as he shows Pamina the picture of her prince, and the sly, lecherous whispers of Monostatos (sung by Ragnar Ulfung, well-known to Met audiences in the '70s) all contribute to the vivid impression of the Bergman/Ericson recording. The single most arresting moment comes when Monostatos suddenly hisses "Nu stilla, stilla, stilla, stilla!" from teh left-hand speaker, and the Queen of the Night, skirts rustling ominously, advances.
The image is dull, soft and hazy for most of the performance. Color balance looks poor as well (orange skin tones). I suspect it is the best print that could be obtained. Even for TV from 1975 this looks rather poor. There are excellent subtitles and no DVD extras. A Criterion rarity, but a pleasure to own for its unique charm. out of