Ingmar Bergman Rev. Robert E. Lauder - Essay

Rev. Robert E. Lauder

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Ingmar Bergman continues to replay brilliantly the same themes. While critics debate various interpretations of his vision, Bergman keeps surpassing his previous accomplishments. His latest opus, a dazzling film production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, is a bit different from his usual offering—but just a bit. (p. 55)

What is different of course is the warm, joyous presence of Mozart, which Bergman honors with warm, joyous cinematic images. However, The Magic Flute replays many favorite Bergman themes.

All of Bergman's films deal with the meaning of human love in the face of death. Bergman has confessed that when he feels particularly sad he takes courage in the simple love between a man and woman. The simple theme of The Magic Flute, that perfect love triumphs, was the theme of Bergman's The Seventh Seal…. Though in most of his films Bergman's characters rarely encounter each other in love, it is clear that, for the Swedish director, if truth is to be found it will only be found by lovers….

It is particular fitting that in The Magic Flute music leads the lovers to salvation. Art finally wins….

Believing that film like music should portray psychic states, Bergman has throughout his career powerfully presented the cries and whispers of the suffering human soul. What makes The Magic Flute different from other Bergman films is that, having captured the musical genius of Mozart on film, Bergman seems, at least for the present, to be at peace. (p. 56)

Rev. Robert E. Lauder, "Two Views of 'The Magic Flute'," in America (© America Press, 1976; all rights reserved), Vol. 134, No. 3, January 24, 1976, pp. 55-6.