Branagh's Magic Flute: Probably Without Ducks

By Greg Last edited 159 months ago
Branagh's Magic Flute: Probably Without Ducks

Sir Kenneth Branagh's recent project, as the director of Ducktastic seems to have been cursed from the beginning. And now it's closing — its last performance is this coming Saturday.

But this doesn't mean that our favourite Shakespearian is taking a break. No, plucky Kenneth stays busy, already hard at work at his new film project. And surely his new project couldn't be as misguided from the start as a satire on Siegfried and Roy with ducks, right?

His new project is a film of a Mozart opera in which all the action takes place inside the head of World War I soldier.

Opera seems to be the new new thing for film directors to take on. Actually, this one might not be as ridiculous as it sounds. We think we get the motivating concept: Mozart's Magic Flute is the Enlightenment opera par excellence, a celebration of order, reason, and light defeating darkness, instinct, and superstition. World War I one can represent the moment when the that Enlightenment dream definitively failed. El sueño de razòn, etc... it could work.

And the involvement of Stephen Fry writing the screenplay has to bode well, right? And in the lead role, we get the phenomenally hunky Canadian tenor Joe Kaiser (whom we last heard back when he called himself a baritone, but about whom we hear good things).

However, we have a few things to tell Sir Kenneth:

(1) No matter how hard you try, no matter how good your movie is, it will never be as cool as Ingmar Bergman's version.

(2) If you want to do a version of the Magic Flute in English, why not use the W.H. Auden/Chester Kallman translation? It is one of the best opera translations ever written, with the added benefit of making the second act make sense. We'll never understand why everyone doesn't use it.

(3) If you want to film an opera about shell-shock in WWI, why not just get someone to write an new opera about shell-shock in WWI? Seriously. Why Mozart? Why now?

Finally, The Big Smoke in this week's Time Out points us to an eBay auction for a chance to visit the set of the film, with the proceeds benefiting the BBC Children in Need Campaign. The bidding is currently at £690, but you only have one day left. If you win, let us know whether there is visible evidence of Ducktastic levels of naffness or not...

Last Updated 17 November 2005