The Magic Flute (2006)
Acclaimed director Kenneth Branagh skillfully lifts one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's most beloved works from its original fairy-tale setting and places it against the backdrop of the First World War with this impassioned English-language adaptation staged to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the master composer's birth. Tamino (Joseph Kaiser) has been wounded in battle, but his life is saved when he is subsequently rescued by three kindly field nurses. Papageno (Benjamin Jay Davis) is a bird keeper whose mission it is to check the trenches for dangerous gasses. Upon seeing a picture of the lovely Pamina (Amy Carson) and instantly falling in love with the girl, Tamino makes it his mission in life to save his treasured beauty from the clutches of nefarious kidnapper Sarastro (Rene Pape). Tamino won't be alone on his dangerous mission, though, because the noble Papageno, who has determined to rescue his own true love, has vowed to fight alongside the smitten soldier right to the bitter end. An imaginative new adaptation of one of Mozart's most beloved operas, Branagh's variation on +The Magic Flute features newly adapted libretto by Stephen Fry, musical direction by James Conlon, and an unforgettable score skillfully performed by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Magic Flute
The results are often fascinating (I love the duet of the Armed Men, sung by a chorus of faces animated out of a wall of sandbags), sometimes ludicrous and never boring.
In the end, love triumphs. In this movie, the music triumphs, proving again that a true masterpiece can survive all kinds of meddling.
Apart from a fascination with the hate-spitting mouth and throat of Lyubov Petrova's vocally pyrotechnic Queen of the Night, the visual gimmicks are individually tolerable. But they don't add up to anything particular.
Opera buffs shouldn't throw away their DVDs of Ingmar Bergman's 1975 TV movie.
Even though there were moments in The Magic Flute when I wondered if Branagh hadn't truly gone off his rocker, I found its audacity exhilarating.
Like the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine," it's all about the marriage of music and images.
It dwells quite happily somewhere in the no-man's-land between "Perfect" and "Perfectly Enjoyable."
Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute comes on strong ... maybe too strong...
A week is a long time in cinema. Last Friday saw Branagh being all but written off thanks to the ludicrous Sleuth. This week, he's hitting the high notes.
His flamboyant rendering of the Mozart opera isn't as smug and stagey as Sleuth, but it is insufferable - and 40 minutes longer.
With James Conlon conducting, this Flute is perfectly in tune - so it's a shame Branagh keeps dropping it in the mud.
The film is fresh, spectacular and unafraid to be called philistine.
A genial and good-natured production with much spectacle and entertainment to offer, and, like all of Branagh's classical revivals on celluloid, it manages to be high-minded and yet accessible.
Despite the talent involved - Branagh is joined by Stephen Fry, who has written a new libretto - and the ambitious staging, this flute blows all right, but it's short on the magic.
Flashes of inspiration but not enough, one suspects, to cause a stampeding horde of cinemagoers to beat down the doors of the Royal Opera House.
It's an impressive undertaking by Branagh but a rather pointless one.
A huge budget allows for spectacular CGI sequences and Branagh concocts some startlingly inspired ways to accompany Mozart's music in visuals.
Branagh's imagery is imaginative and the music lifts you. A neat trick.
Audience Reviews for The Magic Flute
In this adaptation of Mozart's classic opera, Tamino is fights for his love in World War I era trenches.
Kenneth Brannagh, whose Shakespearean adaptations don't always use the advantages of film, makes up for it in this rendition of Mozart's opera. Visual effects abound in Brannagh's best imitation of Julie Taymor, and while some of them are effective, most of the visual stylings do little to advance the plot even though they're fun to look at. The acting and the singing are the real highlights of this film; many of the actors, particularly Benjamin Jay Davis, are able to satisfy the high demands of opera while focusing their work for the film.
Overall, I enjoyed this film even though Brannagh is no Julie Taymor.
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