2018 marks the centenary of the birth of one of the greatest film directors of all time. Very few film-makers can claim to have had such a profound influence on cinema as Ingmar Bergman. There’s no film student in the world who won’t be familiar with his work. No cinephile who doesn’t consider him a genius. To mark this special occasion, the BFI are throwing a whole series of special events, alongside a number of theatrical and home entertainment releases. Originally made for television, The Magic Flute is possibly the best film of an opera you’ll ever see.
Tamino (Josef Köstlinger) is a handsome prince lost in a distant land. He’s persuaded by the Queen of the Night (Birgit Nordin) to rescue her daughter Pamina (Irma Urrila) from the clutches on an evil sorcerer (Ulrik Cold). After seeing a portrait of her, Tamino falls instantly in love. His companion for the journey is the flighty Papageno (Håkan Hagegård), who himself is desperate to find a wife. The pair must face a number of trials and put themselves in the path of danger to complete their quest.
The Magic Flute is a beautifully staged opera which is captured on film with a great deal of love, care and attention. Bergman had a special connection with the opus after seeing it as a boy and keeps reminding the audience that what we’re witnessing is on stage. As with all his work, The Magic Flute is overflowing with symbolism. It’s a fairy-tale romance which seamlessly translates to the small screen through the use of numerous inventive camera angles and shots.
• Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition
• Papageno (1935, 11 mins): Lotte Reiniger’s enchanting silhouette-animation inspired by Mozart’s opera
• In Mozart’s Footsteps (1938, 11 mins): a fascinating post-Anschluss travelogue by roving aristocrat Lady Dunn
• On Such a Night (1955, 37 mins): the colourful adventures of an American Opera buff on his first visit to Glyndebourne, directed by Anthony Asquith
• Illustrated booklet with new writing by Sameer Rahim and Vic Pratt and full film credits
The Magic Flute is released on dual format DVD and Blu-rat by the BFI on 23 April.