Mozart opera adapted for the screen by Kenneth Branagh
This 2006 film adaptation of "The Magic Flute" languished unreleased for far too long, since the "Death and Destruction" excerpt has been teasing us on YouTube since 2009. Kenneth Branagh has reset Mozart's incomprehensible, mythic tale of the conflict of good and evil and the triumph of love in an English language, World War I setting - visually delightful, stuffed with flights of fancy, wonderful sets and art direction, and leering and mugging characters. Since Mozart wrote this to suit the special effects of impressario Emanuel Schikaneder, the more effects the better, and this Mozart-meets-Monty-Python approach actually makes more sense than any other version I've seen. Soprano Amy Carson is sweet and lovable as Pamina, bass Rene Pape is a charismatic, masterful Sarastro, and Lyubov Petrova is fierce and over-the-top as the Queen of the Night. Goofiness and pure emotion get stirred together nicely (the opera's enigmatic Three Ladies are WACs in the trenches!), and ... oh yes ... you can't beat the music. It is a Netflix streamer now, so the price is right. For a sample, just Google "Death and Destruction Mozart" to see the video.
- MILTON MOORE