If viewers can focus on its attractive young cast, the vivid appearances by several international opera stars, and the well-executed fusion of reality and fantasy, “The Magic Flute,” the latest film adaptation of Mozart’s famous opera, it should be a lively and enjoyable musical journey. . But purists, cynics, and those who like a little edge with their contemporary retreads of classic material may disagree.
Unlike perhaps the best-known film version of “Flute,” Ingmar Bergman’s 1975 filmed record of his staged opera (which was first shown on Swedish television and later released theatrically), this new iteration adds even more magic. to procedures. Directed by first-time film director Florian Sigl, from a screenplay by Andrew Lowery, Jason Young and David White (Sigl and producer Christopher Zwickler receive “created by” credit), the film presents Mozart’s work as a A kind of story within a story: a portrait of two analogous worlds.
This witty take on the duoverse first finds the earnest 17-year-old Tim Walker (a charming and lithe Jack Wolfe) entering the esteemed Mozart All Boys School of Music, a sort of Hogwarts for talented musicians tucked away in the Austrian Alps. He arrives late in the semester to hone his craft as a singer and follow in the footsteps of his recently deceased father (Greg Wise), a high school alumnus.
But life at school is often tense for Tim, who deals with bullying, hazing, stiff competition, an anxious roommate (Elliot Courtiour), the troubled son of an opera star (Amir Wilson), and the imperious director, Dr. Longbow (Oscar winner F Murray Abraham, who tangled with Mozart in the 1984 film “Amadeus”). Longbow puts Tim to the test, with a watchful eye and a critical tongue, all in the service of making him “a world-class singer.” Meanwhile, music history professor Mr. Baumgartner (Tedros Teclebrhan) takes a more measured and supportive stance.
Plus, auditions are coming up for the school Christmas recital, a production of, you guessed it, “The Magic Flute,” and Tim is eager to play the title role of Prince Tamino, one of his father’s favorites. But will Tim have what it takes to win the role?
Tim finds a way to escape the pressures, but face all the new ones, when he discovers a mystical portal in the school library that leads him to another realm where the story of “The Magic Flute” unfolds in all its operatic grandeur and fantastic. Tim gets his real-life wish to play the handsome Prince Tamino and soon finds himself on a collision course with a monstrous snake, the evil Sarastro, the Priest of the Sun (Metropolitan Opera’s Morris Robinson) and the mysterious Queen of the Night. . soprano Sabine Devieilhe), whose beautiful daughter, Princess Pamina (Asha Banks), Tamino is tasked with saving from grave danger (not to mention she’s destined to fall in love with her). Not everything, however, is what it seems.
Tim will access the gateway to the land of “Magic Flute” numerous times to pass all the tests of courage his Tamino faces. These include holding a crucial vow of silence plus life and death trials by fire and water. But, at least as presented here, they’re not nearly as hard to beat as lore has it.
Tamino is helped along the way by the Queen’s feisty sidekick, and bird catcher, Papageno (Iwan Rheon of “Game of Thrones” and the British sitcom “Vicious”). He also receives magical help from the titular flute, given to him by the Queen’s three servant girls (Larissa Herden, Jasmin Shakeri, Jeanne Goursaud).
Back in reality, Tim falls for Sophie (Niamh McCormack), a student on the spinning side of Mozart academy with an inside track at the school. But aside from a gorgeous scene where they collaborate on a sweet rendition of the Jackson 5 tune “I’ll Be There,” their moments together can seem low on chemistry.
As for Mozart’s iconic music, there is much magnificent orchestration along with several standout vocal performances, notably Devieilhe’s stirring rendition of the Queen’s aria, “The Wrath of Hell,” and Robinson’s deep throat, “Before Our Holy Altar”. The latest “Pa Pa Papagena” (with Stéfi Celma from the hit French TV series “Call My Agent!” as Papageno’s soul mate with a similar name) is a lot of fun. Although what is on offer is, by necessity, a significantly truncated version of Mozart’s original creation, the film adequately addresses the highlights and serves as an accessible introduction to the beloved piece. (Jeremy Sams provided the English libretto.)
The film, executive produced by filmmaker Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “Moonfall”), was actually shot on Bavarian sets and in Mozart’s hometown of Salzburg, Austria, including at the city’s Schloss Leopoldskron, a palace where parts of “The Sound of Music” were also filmed. But the prehistoric settings of the desert of the Canary Islands are not always the ideal combination for much of the operatic and fantasy action that unfolds against them.
The costumes and production design are strong, although the scenes from the opera world tend towards a more theatrical look. Pixomondo’s (“Game of Thrones”) visual effects, particularly its animation of the Queen’s hapless mega-snake, are also competent.
Although there are some obvious parallels between music school and opera stories (did you know that love conquers all?), they don’t line up as elegantly as they could. And the film’s final moment, despite its own sense of narrative logic, feels like a cheat and a perhaps less glorious way of getting us out of what the film deserves.
Still, this “Magic Flute” has much to recommend it and is a worthy, well-performed, often moving and dazzling version of an enduring masterpiece.
‘The magic Flute’
Execution time: 2 hours, 4 minutes.
Playing: Starts March 10 in general release