I’ve just watched the version of Mozart’s Magic Flute filmed by Kenneth Branagh. I was absolutely blown away by its sheer bravura. From the opening single tracking shot beginning in the trenches of World War 1, then rising far above; to the finale where summer returns to the blasted fields, it was an absolute visual tour-de-force.
But the visuals were not alone. It was Mozart’s glorious music, after all. The performers were excellent, singing was top class, and there was an English translation of the libretto that was extremely good and witty. I saw from the credits at the end that the translation was done by Stephen Fry, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at its quality.
In the end though, the visual feel of the film was what struck me, and Kenneth Branagh’s direction reminded me of the baroque style of Ken Russell –particularly of Tommy, his rock opera. The sheer adrenaline rush of watching their imaginations writ large on the silver screen is terrific.