Set in medieval times, around the temple of the Holy Grail, Parsifal offers its director more than just the possibility of interpreting Wagner's seductive last opera. He reduces the central Christian theme and refocuses it on a decaying Europe, while simultaneously confronting past with present, myth with reality, the rational with the romantic. Filmed exclusively within a studio - a practice which Syberberg has practically reinvented - it's all staged within a gigantic set of Wagner's death mask, with constantly shifting projected backgrounds. Among a mixed cast of actors and singers, Edith Clever gives a particularly impressive expressionist performance as Kundry (sung by Yvonne Minton). Wagner, as the most radical dramatist of his age, is matched by Syberberg's vision, confirming that he is one of the most visually distinctive film-makers of his time. Continually surprising, provocative, probably infuriating for purists, Parsifal is compulsive viewing for both music and movie enthusiasts.
Cast and crew