I am not a big movie goer, but this week I’ve been to the cinema twice. (Which makes it four times this year, I think.)
On Thursday, we went to see Stardust. It is, as you hopefully know, an adaptation of the excellent book by Neil Gaiman, which is a kind of fairy tale for adults. It has received very mixed reviews in Swedish papers, but it seems as if a lot of the reviewers had no idea it was a book to begin with, and it’s obvious they hadn’t read it. Big surprise there. Movies should of course stand on their own and be enjoyable to people who haven’t read the book (which is one reason why I think most books shouldn’t be adapted), but if you are going to get paid for reviewing a movie in a newspaper, it should be part of your job to find out the basic facts about it.
In any case, I love the book, and I also loved the movie. It was fun, and beautiful, and although they had changed the story around a lot I didn’t feel they had ruined it; the actors were good, and as usual I didn’t recognise any of them, even the ones I’ve probably seen in other movies. An added bonus – for all of us in the theatre if not for anybody else – was the fact that the cinema was virtually empty. There were very few people there, and no children, which meant no loud talking or running around or kicking my seat from behind or any of the other things that tend to make movie going an annoying rather than an enjoyable experience. This experience was very enjoyable indeed.
Yesterday, we went to an afternoon showing of Bergman’s The Magic Flute. I have always loved the adaptation – we had it on four or five LP records in a large, square box when I grew up, and I read and re-read the libretto and listened to the records over and over. I thnk I’d seen the adaptation three times before, never on the big screen, and it’s been any number of years. So it was a good reunion, with equal parts nostalgia and re-discovery. The story of the opera is a bit thin and silly, but the film is much more than that; I hadn’t appreciated the meta parts of it before as much as I did this time. The film is about The Magic Flute being produced as an opera, with glimpses of the audience, the props and scenery very much belonging tto a theatre, and between the acts, we see the Queen of Night smoking a cigarette, Pamina and Tamino playing chess and one of Monostatos’ slave boys reading Donald Duck. And of course I love the music. There is nothing difficult or challenging about it, a child can appreciate it (as indeed I did as a child), but I’m not afraid of saying I like it all the same. A few of the arias, such as Sarastro’s In Diesen Heil’gen Hallen (I dessa helga salar) almost bring tears to my eyes, they are so beautiful (and Ulrik Cold’s voice is just wonderful). The copy of the movie was old and rather scratched in places, occasionally, between scenes I even think there were a few seconds missing. Which made me wonder if I’m ever going to be able to see it again. I should get it on DVD before it’s too late, perhaps.