In memoriam: the first act quintet from Ingmar Bergman’s 1975 version of Die Zauberflöte:
(Tamino: Josef Köstlinger; Papageno: Håkan Hagegård; the ladies: Britt Marie Aruhn, Kirsten Vaupel, and Birgitta Smiding.) A safe vote for the best movie version of an opera ever—although I think the Powell-Pressburger Tales of Hoffmann should also be a contender—what’s most fun about Bergman’s rendition is that he is more true to Mozart and Schikaneder than most productions, while, at the same time, transforming the material into an almost stereotypical Bergman film. (Kind of like Bernard Shaw and Wagner, in a way.) This entire scene is done with nothing but lighting (except for those great Seventh Seal-prop-reject skulls), but the close-ups and editing make it completely surreal in spite of the self-conscious stage artifice. The ladies’ deep-focus entrance alone—eerie, funny, and so casually understated in its legerdemain—is still one of my favorite celluloid moments.


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