The Magic Flute (1975 film)
|The Magic Flute|
|Directed by||Ingmar Bergman|
|Produced by||Måns Reuterswärd|
|Written by||Emanuel Schikaneder
|Music by||Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|
|Studio||Sveriges Radio/TV2/AB Svensk Filmindustri/Svenska Filminstituet|
|Distributed by||Sveriges Radio/TV2/AB Svensk Filmindustri (Sweden)
Surrogate Films (US, former)
Janus Films/Criterion Collection (US, current)
|Release dates||1 January 1975|
|Running time||135 min|
The Magic Flute (Swedish: Trollflöjten) is Ingmar Bergman's 1975 film version of Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte. It was intended as a television production and was first shown on Swedish television on 1 January 1975, but was followed by a cinema release later that year. The film was shown at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition. The film is notable as the first made-for-television film (and filmed in then-standard 1:1.33 television aspect ratio) with a stereo soundtrack.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2010)|
Bergman had earlier featured The Magic Flute in his 1968 film Hour of the Wolf in a surreal puppet show featuring real people. For the film version he made a number of changes, most notably having the opera sung in Swedish rather than the original German.
Other changes include:
- Bergman made a major change in the plot: Sarastro is Pamina's father, shifting the basis of his claim to her custody (as well as removing most of the sexism in the story -- comments made about women are shifted to the Queen of the Night rather than all women as a target)
- The Three Boys introduce themselves, instead of being introduced by the Queen's Three Ladies. Thus, Bergman's version does not show that the boys are in the Queen's service.
- A scene in which the slaves laugh happily because Pamina has escaped from Monostatos is deleted. (This scene is often left out of productions of The Magic Flute.)
- Instead of his usual plumage of feathers, Papageno wears more conventional clothing. Consequently, Monostatos is not afraid of Papageno.
- The prayer to Isis and Osiris becomes instead a prayer to the Gods of Light. In fact, there are no longer any indications that the story is set in ancient Egypt, and only architecture and technology hint at time or place. The story has become universal.
- The sun-disk amulet, coveted by the Queen, is eliminated.
- Instead of first seeing Papagena as an ugly old hag, the movie audience first sees her as a beautiful woman who is trying to get to Papageno, but is not allowed to see him. In pantomime (as Papageno sings) she begs to one of the priests that she disguise herself as a hag so that she can meet him, to which the priest agrees. We then see her putting on the makeup. When she meets Papageno, she at first does not reveal herself to him even as an ugly woman. When she finally does, she is so grotesque that Papageno, rather than being repulsed, bursts into laughter, and she laughs along with him.
- The reunion of Papageno and Papagena precedes rather than follows that of Tamino and Pamina.
- The Queen is accompanied not only by Monostatos and the Three Ladies, but also by a whole army of fierce Amazons, armed with spears, shields and helmets, and she also wears a helmet.
- Monostatos commits suicide when the invasion fails.
Influence on the Branagh version
Thirty years later, Kenneth Branagh's 2006 film version followed Bergman's version in several important details: Sarastro is Pamina's father. Monostatos is not afraid of Papageno, and Monostatos commits suicide at the end.
- Josef Köstlinger – Tamino
- Britt-Marie Aruhn; Birgitta Smiding; Kirsten Vaupel – Three Ladies
- Håkan Hagegård – Papageno
- Birgit Nordin – Queen of the Night
- Irma Urrila – Pamina
- Ragnar Ulfung – Monostatos
- Ulrik Cold – Sarastro
- Elisabeth Erikson – Papagena
- Erik Saedén – Speaker
- Sixten Fark, Arne Hendriksen, Sven-Erik Jacobsson, Ulf Johansson, Folke Jonsson - Priests
- Bergman himself appears briefly in shots of the audience group, as do Sven Nykvist, the cinematographer and Donya Feuer, the choreographer.
Bergman constantly reminds the viewer that this is a theatrical event, repeatedly showing the audience. As the overture begins, a close-up shot of the face of a young girl (in fact, Ingmar Bergman's granddaughter) fills the screen. Gradually this gives way to close-ups of a multitude of faces in the audience – faces of many races, ages, classes. The young girl from the overture reappears frequently, cut into the action on stage and reacting to those events; her facial expressions often express the mood of the music as it moves from lighter to darker.
As scenes change, so the mechanics of the theatre reveal themselves; day turns to night as the Queen of the Night arrives and, from the point of view of an audience member, we witness the shifting backcloths moving to create the new scene. Similarly, when Papagena and Papageno joyously discover each other in a winter landscape, the chiming of the magic bells theatrically turns the scenery from Winter into Spring while the two characters remove portions of each other’s winter garments.
Furthermore, throughout the performance and during the intermission, we get backstage views of the theatre. Tamino plays his flute while, through the wings, we catch sight of Papageno (responding to Tamino's flute) and Pamina for, at this stage in the plot, they [Pamina and Tamino] have not yet met. The opposite happens when Pamina and Papageno are on stage and, this time, it is Tamino who is seen sitting on a ladder in the wings responding to Papageno's pan flute. Earlier, when Papageno sings his first aria, we see Papagena appear from the rafters, but at this stage, they too have not yet met.
During the intermission, Sarastro's men gather on the stage chatting. Sarastro himself (Ulrik Cold out of character - he wears glasses) sits reading the score of Parsifal (at the time, Ulrik Cold was rehearsing for the recording of that particular opera) while the camera pans to one of Monastatos’ henchmen (a young boy in dark makeup and jester's costume) reading a Donald Duck comic book. The Queen of the Night (Birgit Nordin) and the Three Ladies smoke cigarettes (right in front of a "Smoking Forbidden" sign) and read some magazines, while Nordin has her makeup applied for the 2nd aria; another of Monostatos' henchmen joins in. Yet another of Monostatos' henchmen observes Pamina and Tamino (Irma Urrila and Josef Köstlinger) playing chess in the dressing room. Finally, as the curtain is about to rise for Act 2, another of Monostatos' henchmen peers through a low peephole in the curtain and he is joined by Sarastro who peeps through a higher one. Throughout, we are constantly reminded of the mechanics of the “show” we are witnessing.
However, the film is also very cinematic. There is an emphasis on close-ups of the singers, but the mechanics of cinema also allow for manipulations of time and space. For example, prior to Papageno’s first entry, there is a cut to Håkan Hagegård (Papageno's actor) backstage in his dressing room. Suddenly, to be ready for his cue, he jumps up out of his bed and rushes to the wings where he plays the appropriate chord on his pipe, is then helped into his birdcage by a stagehand (dressed as one of the bats Tamino encounters later on in Act 1), and finally makes the appropriate entrance to find Tamino. Later, as Tamino looks at the locket containing Pamina’s picture for the 2nd time, she comes alive inside the locket with the ominous face of Monastatos glimpsed over her shoulder, foreshadowing a possible problem. Equally cinematic are the obvious “real” scenes taking place in the snow, which could not be realistically created on stage.
Both theatre and cinema are important in the final minute of the film: each part of the action seamlessly dissolves into the other, as the camera pulls back, first to witness Pamina and Tamino in an embrace that, in turn, gives way to a theatrical backdrop falling into place. Then the backward moving camera (taking us further and further from the action on stage) shows us Papagena and Papageno also kissing. The couple is circled by a group of small children (possibly the little Papagenas and Papagenos lyrically imagined a few moments before) until the camera pulls back further to reveal the proscenium arch and a dissolve takes us to the final drop of the curtain and the rise of the audience’s applause.
Behind the scenes
The sound was not actually recorded in sync with the photography. The singers pre-recorded their parts and then lip-synced to the music, which was played back as they performed.
According to film historian Peter Cowie’s notes for the DVD release of the film, Bergman wanted to recreate as closely as possible the original 1791 production in the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. He had hoped that the film could be shot in the historic Drottningholm Palace Theatre, one of the few surviving Baroque theatres in the world, and the introductory exterior shots of the film suggest that this is where the opera is filmed. However, the scenery at Drottningholm "was considered too fragile to accommodate a film crew. So the stage – complete with wings, curtains, and wind machines – was painstakingly copied and erected in the studios of the Swedish Film Institute".
- "Festival de Cannes: The Magic Flute". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 4 May 2009.
- Peter Cowie's essay on The Magic Flute film on criterian.com Retrieved 12 November 2012
- The Magic Flute at the Internet Movie Database
- The Magic Flute at allmovie
- The Magic Flute at the Swedish Film Database
- Vincent Canby, "The Magic Flute (1975)", The New York Times, 12 November 1975