Ingmar Bergman was a master of both screen and stage, and in his 1975 version of The Magic Flute, he merged the two mediums to enchanting effect. He couldn’t have chosen more inspiring material to showcase his gift for capturing the all-consuming artifice of theater: not only is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s tale of a prince’s quest to rescue an imperiled princess the most beloved opera of all time, it was also the Swedish director’s favorite opera as a child. As considerate of the action onstage as he is of the audience, Bergman chose to record the opera with the cast in a sound studio and then set up cameras for the actual production, freeing the actors to tailor their performances for the choreographed camera moves and close-ups. At crucial moments, he also turns his gaze away from the proscenium. As Bergman expert Peter Cowie explains in a supplemental feature on our brand-new edition, the filmmaker wanted to highlight the diversity of the audience, cutting between close-ups of spectators of various ages and races. Watch the above excerpt from Cowie’s interview, in which he also explains how Bergman creates a sense of playfulness by momentarily bringing us backstage.
Charles Burnett Calls Forth the Ghosts of the Old World
In an interview program on our edition of To Sleep with Anger, the director and his actors discuss the African-American folkloric traditions at the heart of the film.
Liv Ullmann Recalls “Shattering” Moments on the Set of Shame
While working on Ingmar Bergman’s devastating antiwar film, the actress developed an emotionally intense chemistry with her costar Max von Sydow.
The Real-Life Rage That Fueled Lee Grant in In the Heat of the Night
In this excerpt from a new interview, the actor talks about how she channeled her political anger in the role of a distraught widow in Norman Jewison’s Oscar-winning crime drama.
Writing with the Body: Mikey and Nicky as an Actors’ Showcase
Elaine May populated her gangster-film masterpiece with acting heavyweights who could bring spontaneity to their roles. Critics Richard Brody and Carrie Rickey talk about her approach to performance in this clip.