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France / Italy / Germany, 1979 (MIFF 1999, Mozart: Mad & Marvellous)

Director: Joseph Losey

Unlike other Mozart operas, the action of Don Giovanni is played out in a brief 24 hour period. It has its fair share of doors slamming and women running through corridors dragging long skirts—but within its tight, dynamic plot is woven a web of intrigue, greed and revenge. From the opening seguence at a glass factory, Don Giovanni leers somewhat naively over the open furnace that will eventually —albeit symbolically—consume his soul. In the process, he becomes embroiled in betrayal and misadventure and under the spell of corruption.

Losey satisfies lovers of the aural delights by casting vocal big names Ruggera Raimondi (Don), Kiri Te Kanawa (Donna Elvira) and Jose Van Dam (Leporello). He then removes them from the safe conventions of the stage, instead choosing a highly interpretive, grainy terrain: the Palladio's Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, Italy. Spared the stilled feel of many operatic films, Don Giovanni screams with grit, daring and suspense.

Losey claimed—somewhat brashly, although not without an element of truth—that this was the first time opera had been shot as a movie rather than as either filmed performance or a moment for television. Shot primarily on location, this is a production where the only things staged are the hairstyles. Often described as dark, brooding and real, this is an excellent introduction for the uninitiated to the work of both Losey and Mozart.

See also...

Filming of an Experiment in Opera: Joseph Losey's Don Giovanni

France, 1979
A reportage on the filming of the feature Don Giovanni" directed by Joseph Losey, from Mozart's Opera, with the Orchestra and Choir of the Opera de Paris conducted by Lorin Maazel. ... More »


USA, 1951
Fritz Lang's M (1931 ), is one of his most celebrated films, and its tale of a sadistic murderer who kills little girls, offered a portrait of the profound troubles that gripped Germany in the years … More »


France, 1982
Joseph Losey says he had wanted to do ... ‘ ‘The Trout' ' , a novel by Roger Vailland, for over 20 years, and somehow ... the film does have a kind of existentialist ... look. (Surely the presenc… More »


USA, 1991
Veteran producer Irwin Winkler makes an assured writing - directing debut with this involving drama about Hollywood professionals affected by the insidious blacklists of the early 1950's, the infamou… More »


Japan, 2001
"From the director of the superb Ring and Ring 2. A young mother is plagued by visions of the ghostly presence of a drowned girl which seem to strip away the reassuring surfaces of modern-day Japan t… More »

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