In this unusual staging of Mozart's famous opera, the Queen of the Night (Nordin) charges handsome Tamino (Kostlinger) with recovering her daughter, Princess Pamina (Urrila), from malevolent wizard Sarastro (Cold). As he continues on this strange quest, our hero comes to understand that he has it backwards: in fact, the noble Sarastro is protecting the princess from the Queen, who is the evil one.
This delightful film captures a modern-day production at a Stockholm theatre, intercutting the performance with audience reactions and dramatic backstage shots. While some purists gripe that this conceit (along with Swedish lyrics) adulterates Mozart's favorite work, it should go over nicely with non-opera types, as it adds texture to what is, after all, a film. The spirited cast brings an old story alive, while Sven Nykvist's gliding camerawork lends Bergman's pet project a stylistic panache. "The Magic Flute" is charming, intelligent family entertainment, crafted by two masters who serve each other well.