Enlightenment In Kenneth Branagh's 'The Magic Flute'

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Enlightenment was a movement in the late 17th century in which people began to advocate for reason over tradition and secularization became more prevalent. In Kenneth Branagh’s The Magic Flute, an adaptation of Mozart’s final opera, which as Subotnik states is an “artistic masterpiece”, there is much symbolism. Although there are many binaries and themes in the film, such as love, good vs evil, brotherhood, and humanism, enlightenment is the most prominent and therefore the central theme of the film. In Kenneth Branagh’s The Magic Flute (2006), sound and visuals work together to support the unfolding of this central theme of the film. The film begins with a night battle scene, soldiers fighting during World War I located in an unknown country.…show more content…
Two armored men tell Tamino “Through fire, water, air and earth / if he the terror of Death / Can overcome, he vaults / from the earth, heavenward / Illuminated”. Essentially they are saying that if Tamino is able to conquer the four elements, that he will be enlightened. Splaething states, “[There is a] perception that [the] natural elements are ambivalent in character and function: they are life-giving and life-destroying; but whoever masters them possesses the power of magic and can rule over life and death.” (58). As Splaething outlines, all of the elements have the power to support life; water can be drank, fire lights up darkness, air is necessary for breathing, and earth can be used to harvest crops and build homes with. However, the elements also have the power to take life away; water can create floods and drown people (which is the last element that Tamino and Pamina face, in the trenches), fire has the power to burn or be used to light cannon bombs, air can be poisonous, and earth can be shaped for horror, such as the trenches that were created. Splaething also notes that “Music is a protective shield against inner and outer elemental aggressions” (57). By “inner aggressions” Spaelthing could be suggesting negative feelings, such as anxiety or fear, or even ignorance, and by “outer elemental aggressions” he is describing the elements themselves. The magic flute, as aforementioned, has the power to protect Tamino and Papageno. It is evident that Tamino becomes more knowledgeable in regards to the war itself as well as the Queen of the Night’s evil plans throughout the

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