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Read: Interlude in Prague is the right movie for our times

I love me a good old period drama, and Interlude in Prague promises a great deal – the sumptuous music of Mozart; the composer’s reputation as the bad boy of 18th Century music; and some gorgeous costumes and locations.

Despite all that promise, the film has been knocked by critics and I think it’s because of the script, which seems to get in the way of the actors at times. Those actors themselves are pretty good, but the dialogue makes it feel as thought they are ‘performing’ rather than living the lines.

Having said that, I actually liked the film.

I think director John Stephenson has deliberately chosen to throw away the clichéd notions of Mozart as a hedonist and instead focus on his internal conflicts, and his belief in fairness. He’s also chosen to expose the hypocrisy of public morality versus private vice. This film makes Mozart a kind of hero – well – so long as you ignore the fact he cheats on his wife who is still grieving the loss of a child.

The main antagonist in the film is Baron Saloka, who represents the elite and the corruption that absolute power brings. There is no subtlety with this character, we are meant to hate him and we do.

James Purefoy plays Saloka with a smouldering vileness that becomes more sinister as the film develops.

Of course Saloka is a work of fiction who never existed in real life. But he is a symbol for the rich and powerful aristocracy who basically treated everyone less powerful with utter contempt. He is a necessary character because the film’s premise is that without Saloka, or people like him, Mozart’s great opera, Don Giovanni, would never have been written.

Aneurin Barnard’s portrayal of Mozart is understated, particularly if you compare it to Tom Hulse’s in Amadeus. At first this seems a little unsettling but as the story progresses Barnard’s Mozart provides the perfect foil to Purefoy’s Saloka.

With Interlude in Prague the director has created a film that is refined and beautifully shot. The music is sublime and despite an, at times clumsy script, the story is engaging.

It is also a film that despite it’s time setting is completely relevant to our modern world. In one particular scene Saloka conducts one of the most awful acts of violence against a woman that I have ever seen. Certainly there are other movies with much more blood and gore, but in this movie, his vile act is frighteningly realistic.

That scene clearly demonstrates the damage wrought by privileged white males in powerful positions who think they have the right to abuse others, and in particular, women. In an age of #metoo, Interlude in Prague is the right drama for our times.

In cinemas 2nd August 2018

Interlude in Prague

103 Minutes

Starring: Aneurin Barnard, James Purefoy, Samantha Barks, Morfydd Clark, Adrian Edondson, Anna Rust
Directed by: John Stephenson

 

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