Interlude in PragueCultureCinemaMovie reviews
The compositional process behind Mozart’s masterpiece Don Giovanni gets the Shakespeare in Love treatment. But there is a darker edge to this brief interlude in the life of one of the most famous composers of all time; the Austrian child prodigy escapes Radio Three and the BBC proms and is presented to us as the enigmatic, mysterious Romantic man. Within the plot he abandons the world of the privileged elite, where his music served only to please kings, instead offering his talents to the broader public. Interlude in Prague enacts this process, blending the sumptuous passion of his music with a visually stunning aesthetic that revitalises Mozart in the modern mind.
Shot entirely in Prague, the movie captures the splendour of 18th-century Baroque theatre both through the visuals and sound. Mozart falls in love with the soprano Zuzanna Lubtak and, of course, it is not a simple love-affair: he is married while Zuzanna is betrothed to the sexual predator Baron Saloka. Aneurin Barnard is sensitive but never melodramatic as the composer and his character’s masterpiece becomes something organic. The film could have easily spelt out the emotional resonances of the opera and in turn undermined the viewer’s personal appreciation of it. Instead, as scenes such as the premiere of Don Giovanni prove – where flashbacks of his memories are depicted in parallel to the music – Mozart’s opera becomes an unleashing of his passion, loss and sorrow that leaves the audience stunned.
There are undertones of sexual exploitation: James Purefoy does not shy away from the vile deeds of his character, Baron Saloka, who, as the patron of the opera in Prague, considers himself above the law. Links between the past and the present recur. As Mozart finishes his masterpiece an 18th-century production line is created, quills scratching out the notes. While the action is out of context and time, Mozart’s former life is hardly explained: his wife re-emerges at the close of the film, hints are made but never confirmed about how he left his former employ. The movie therefore stands alone as an interlude would. This segment of the composer’s life is now preserved in the culturally current art form of our age just as it was in his own through music. These parallels should also remind us that while the glamour of the entertainment industry remains so too does the dark underside.
Interlude in Prague is released nationwide on 25th May 2017 and on DVD and HD Digital from 29th May.
Watch the trailer for Interlude in Prague here: