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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Swedish PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • None

The Magic Flute


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Josef Kostlinger, Irma Urrila, Hakan Hagegard, Elisabeth Eriksson
1975 | 135 Minutes | Licensor: Sveriges Radio

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #71
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: May 16, 2000
Review Date: March 12, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

Ingmar Bergman puts his indelible stamp on Mozart's exquisite opera in this sublime rendering of one of the composer's best-loved works: a celebration of love, forgiveness, and the brotherhood of man. The Magic Flute (TrollflŲjten) stars Josef KŲstlinger as Tamino, the young man determined to rescue a beautiful princess from the clutches of parental evil. Criterion's edition features the film's glorious soundtrack in the original stereo format.

Forum members rate this film 6.7/10

 

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

The Criterion Collectionís original 2000 DVD edition for Ingmar Bergmanís The Magic Flute presents the film in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on a dual-layer disc. The standard-definition presentation has been sourced from a scan of 35mm low-contrast print. Because of the aspect ratio the image has not been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Iíve always found this a fairly mediocre presentation and having just viewed Criterionís new Blu-ray edition prior to revisiting this one Iím even more underwhelmed. Though it has a warmer look (heavy on the reds at times) the colours are still flat and can look washed out. Black levels are decent but shadow detail can still be weak.

The image is also pretty soft and a bit hazy. The film was shot on 16mm before being copied to 35mm prints for theatrical distribution, and I get the sense the print used for this is further down the line, which has led to the softer look. Long shots are fuzzy and close-ups still lack fine detail, even what DVD is capable of delivering. The restoration work has also been fairly minimal and there are still a significant number of scratches, bits of dirt and grit, and there are also instances where the image will shift and fluctuations in the colours are visible. There also appears to be remnants of mold in a few shots, with white blotches dancing around.

The digital presentation isnít too shabby I have to say, and for DVD this still looks pretty decent. It is technically a progressive encode but there have been interlaced frames inserted and sometimes trailing is evident. Ultimately itís still the general condition of the print and weak colours that make this experience underwhelming.

6/10

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AUDIO

The DVD, rather shockingly, comes with a linear PCM 2.0 stereo presentation. Having a PCM track on DVD wasnít entirely unheard of for Criterion, though off of the top of my head the only other DVD to feature one from them was Spike Leeís Do the Right Thing.

There was an issue with the original pressings for this title: Criterion mixed up the left and right channels so the audio was coming from the wrong speakers. To be perfectly honest I never noticed this originally and itís probably because the track is so weak to begin with. Itís flat and lifeless, the music even lacking range and fidelity (and itís only more noticeable after hearing the audio on the new Blu-ray). I would assume the whole point of including a PCM track would be to offer the best possible audio, but it helps if more restoration work was done. Background noise, crackle and the like also pop up. A really weak track.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion includes no special features at all on the disc, but they do include a short essay by scholar Peter Cowie on the production and Bergmanís stage career, found in the included insert.

1/10

CLOSING

A real lackluster edition, leaving a lot to be desired: no supplements and a weak audio/video presentation. Even if you could find it cheap I would still push people to pick up the Blu-ray edition (or even the newer DVD edition, which I havenít seen, but can only be better than this).


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