Saturday, March 11, 2023

The Magic Flute, Mozart Produced by Roland Emmerich

This classic tale is all about a prince trying to save a princess and it starts with a monster attack. We typically do not see it this way, but Mozart’s most popular opera is a total quest fantasy. Therefore, maybe it isn’t totally inappropriate to combine it with elements of Harry Potter, just slightly goofy. Young Tim Walker does not simply study Mozart’s opera, he journeys into it in Florian Sigl’s The Magic Flute, produced by Roland Emmerich, which is now playing in Los Angeles.

Walker, a Sensitive Andrea Bocelli copycat, has been granted rare permission to join the student body of Hogwarts-like Mozart Academy of Music, because of the recent death of his alumnus father. Before he died, Walker’s father asks him to return the rare
Magic Flute manuscript he nicked from the school’s library. He tries to sneak it back his first night there, triggering the mystical portal to the world of The Magic Flute.

Accepting Prince Tamino’s quest, Walker constantly sneaks out of his room at 3:00 to reinsert himself into the opera. His disappearing acts thoroughly confuse his sidekick Papageno, the opera’s comic relief. Meanwhile, in the real world, his flakiness annoys his roommate, Paolo, and his prospective girlfriend, Sophie.

The look of both worlds is quite amazing. The “Potterizing” of
The Magic Flute is sometimes quite clever, but Walker really ought to be better prepared for the trials he faces, considering how intently he studies the titular Mozart opera.

Regardless, probably the best part of the film, both in terms of special effects and vocal delivery is the Queen of the Night, played by real deal opera diva Sabine Devieilhe. She definitely rises above the often-awkward-sounding contemporary English translation of Mozart’s libretto.

Nobody else can match her range, but wisely, Jack Wolfe and Niamh McCormack really do not try, as Walker and his potential real-world love interest. Instead, they perform some likable vintage pop. Their romantic chemistry is lightweight, but agreeable.

It is also ironically fitting to see F. Murray Abraham (Salieri in
Amadeus, as everyone should remember), acting like the guardian of Mozart’s legacy as Dr. Longbow, the headmaster. Iwan Rheon maintains a high energy level during his pratfalls as Papageno and his third act number with Stefi Celma’s Papagena is a crowd-pleaser. However, the angst surrounding Paolo the bullied roommate is the stuff of tiresome cliches.

It is weird that this
Magic Flute works as well as it does. Sigl should have given viewers more time with Wolfe and McCormack, because they click together. Emmerich, the blockbuster producer also incorporates a lot of professionally rendered spectacle. It looks great and the music sounds good, but the vocals will probably confirm traditionalist opera patrons’ biases against translations. Recommended for teens who want to try something a little classier, The Magic Flute is now playing in Los Angeles at the Laemmle NoHo 7 and Claremont 5.