The utopian imagery of Mozart's opera has pervaded Bergman's recent films; the 'ideal' couple Tamino and Pamina, united in the dawn of enlightenment and triumph over adversity, have haunted his angst-ridden couples since Hour of the Wolf. Made for Swedish TV, his film of the opera itself was obviously intended to popularise it. His strategy was to stage it in an 18th century theatre, complete with quaintly spectacular stagecraft, in front of a modern audience looking like delegates from a UNESCO conference; he introduces a few backstage gags, and lots of audience reaction shots, but mostly just films close-ups of the singers (doing their stuff in Swedish, incidentally). The trouble is that Bergman's ostensibly supportive tactics tend actually to subvert Mozart's conception, and so the result is a good deal less momentous than Bergman thinks. But it's still much livelier than most TV versions of operas.
Cast and crew