VENICE — Kenneth Branagh’s risky adaptation of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” transposed to the First World War really sang for many at the Venice Film Festival, where it screened Thursday both on the Lido and in Venice’s famed La Fenice opera house.
Italian critics — especially tough to please when it comes to opera — are raving about the English-language libretto, penned by Stephen Fry from the German original, and about its filmic and musical rendition.
Milan’s Corriere Della Sera said Branagh’s take on “Flute,” which is set during a Christmas-day truce when British and German soldiers play a football match between their respective trenches, packs a powerful anti-war message.
“Mozart would be happy with it,” was the verdict from Rome’s La Repubblica.
The Rome newspaper however opined that pic won’t be an easy sell in cinemas, since opera buffs are too finicky, while moviegoers could be put off by some of the arty visuals, such as “a close-up of a huge singing mouth that looks like a witches’ cavern,” it said.
The Variety review also does not weigh in favorably for pic’s marketability.
At a press conference, British philanthropist Peter Moores who put up most of the £15 million ($28.2 million) budget, said his purpose was to make opera “more accessible to a larger audience.”
Lido sendoff from the 18th century La Fenice, magnetized mega media attention. It was followed by a posh party in the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti.
“Flute” is being sold by Celluloid Dreams in Toronto, where it will have its North-American preem.
Pic will go out in Italy via top local distributor 01, a RAI Cinema unit.