FlixChatter Review: Interlude in Prague (2017)

I had heard about this film when it was still development a few years ago. Having visited both Vienna AND Prague a few years ago, naturally I’m intrigued to see this as it was filmed on location.

I know that many viewers and critics would compare this movie to the Oscar-winning Amadeus. Now, not only that it isn’t really fair, but it’s also not really accurate as this one isn’t so much a biopic, but focuses more on Mozart’s time in Prague in 1786, so no Antonio Salieri in sight here. Director Brian Ashby, who co-wrote the screenplay with John Stephenson fuses real-life elements with fictitious events, that is a scandal involving the woman he was having an affair with while he was in Prague. Supposedly the event inspired his work in ‘Don Giovanni,’ which in actuality was based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer.

Mozart’s arrival in Prague was quite highly-anticipated by the elite society in Prague, at least those who gathered at Baron Saloka’s lavish dinner party. The talented James Purefoy portrayed Saloka with such an air of arrogant pomposity that seemed intriguing at first. The baron wasn’t as enthused about the musical genius, but he decided he’d invite Mozart to Prague anyway. Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard, who I think is a musically-gifted actor, is wonderfully-cast as Mozart. Being that he was in his early 30s during filming, he’s also age-appropriate for the role and he brought a fun, playful take to the music maestro who’s got a reputation for being a flirt and a womanizer.

I’ve actually never seen Samantha Barks before (though most people might have seen her in 2012 Les Misérables), but I quite like her as Josefa Duchek. I do know she can sing and her beautiful operatic voice is on display here. Morfydd Clark, whom I saw in Love & Friendship a few years ago, also got to sing in this movie as Zuzanna Lubtak, the woman Mozart has an affair with.

It’s Purefoy’s Baron Saloka who I think is the weakest part of this film, and it’s not a dis to the talented actor’s performance. On the contrary, I think the actor’s acting still saved the poorly-written and one-dimensional character. The baron just seemed evil for evil’s sake, but his motivation isn’t clear or well-explored at all. I think part of it it’s the film’s identity crisis, if you will. It tries to be a musical drama as well as a murder mystery thriller, but the latter is so undercooked given the lack of suspense.

Despite the flaws though, I still quite enjoy watching this film as I like Mozart’s music and am a fan of the period drama genre. Visually, the movie is beautiful to–the production design, set pieces and costumes are meticulously designed. The fact that it’s filmed on location, both indoor and outdoor, certainly lends authenticity and the cinematography by Michael Brewster is quite stunning.

If you’re a classical music fan, you might enjoy this one. There are certainly plenty of scenes of Mozart composing music and conducting his work, so clearly the filmmakers have huge admiration for the musical genius. The filmmaker’s idea of reimagining the events in Prague as his inspiration for Don Giovanni perhaps sounds good on paper, but somehow it doesn’t turn out as compelling as it could have been.


Have you seen Interlude in Prague? Well, what did you think?

Music Break: Mozart in the Movies


Today, January 27th, marks the 256th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birth. I listen to classical NPR to and from work a lot and they’re promoting a special program commemorating this event. Well, as my two of my all time favorite music genres are classical and soundtracks, I thought I’d sort of combine the two in today’s music break post.

Just a bit of history on one of the greatest classical composers of all time… Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria and started composing from the age of five and already performed before European royalty at such a young age. He only lived until the age of 35, but in such a short life he was incredibly prolific and influential. Per Wikipedia, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers and his music will always remain timeless.

Tom Hulce as Mozart in AMADEUS

Whether you notice it or not, you’ve likely have heard Mozart’s music in all kinds of films. Whatever the genre, Mozart’s music seems to have a place in a variety of them. This forum from a few years ago compiled over 400 movie titles from all over the world that uses Mozart’s music. And this site actually compiles a list of how many times Mozart’s work has been used in dozens of films.

This piece called Eine kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music) is the most widely used, 13 times as of 2006, in movies ranging from Ace Ventura, Bonfire of the Vanities to Nikita, and of course it’s part of the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning film about the musical genius, Amadeus (1984) .


If you haven’t seen Amadeus, I highly recommend it. Even if you’re not a fan of classical music, it’s still a fascinating story and the film was amazingly done. It won 8 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham for his superb performance as Antonio Salieri, Mozart’s main rival. Tom Hulce in the title role was also nominated for an Oscar. The film is told in flashback mode by Salieri who’s now confined to an insane asylum. Check out the trailer below:


My introduction to Mozart in movies is actually courtesy of an unlikely source, a James Bond film! Ahah, yes, it was The Spy Who Loved Me as it’s played in this scene where Bond’s arch nemesis Stromberg played Piano Concerto No. 21 as his octopus-like hideout rises from the sea. I didn’t even know it was a Mozart piece until much later as I was only a wee kid at the time. I was mesmerized by that music… and Jaws’ teeth 😀 It remains one of my all time favorites to this day.


Alexandre Desplat’s Oscar-nominated soundtrack for The King’s Speech also uses Mozart’s piece La Nozze di Figaro. One of my favorite parts about this film is definitely the music, and naturally classical music is fitting for the subject matter.

 


So those are just some of my favorite Mozart’s music in movies. Do you have one? Please do share in the comments.