In Hour of the Wolf, director Ingmar Bergman often alludes to Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute.” Having recently watched a friend perform as the title role of Pamina in the opera, I took notice and sought after a reasonable explanation of its relationship to Wolf. If you remember, Johan describes to Alma the demons he is seeing and says that the scariest one reminds him of Papageno, not knowing whether or not he was wearing a mask or if he really had a beak. Also, when Johan and Alma are at the castle the puppet show that is performed is of “The Magic Flute.”
Basically, “The Magic Flute” is about a young man named Tamino who is trying to rescue his love, Pamina, with the help of a bird-like character named Papageno. Typically, Papageno is one of the most-loved characters in the opera; he serves as a slight comic-relief from an otherwise fairly hefty plot. His whimsy and brightly colored-costumes catch attention, and his arias (…songs in opera speak) are pretty brilliant, but he can be pretty foolish as well. All of this being the case, I struggled and am still struggling with why Bergman would have Johan describe his scariest haunter as Papageno. Perhaps Bergman is trying to show the viewer the unsettling nature of Johan’s mental decline. It is obvious that Johan has completely lost touch with normalcy; his fear of the Papageno-like person may show his irrational mindset. It is also possible that Bergman uses “The Magic Flute” to show how strong Alma’s love for Johan is. She asks that if two people love each other enough, do they eventually become one in the same? “The Magic Flute” is all about sacrifice and the extreme things a person will do for love. Maybe Bergman is showing how Alma’s love for her husband is similar to Tamino’s love for Pamina because she is willing to do anything—even stretch the boundaries of her mind—to believe in what he is (or believes he is) witnessing. I think there are a lot of possible reasons for Bergman's inclusion of "The Magic Flute" in Hour of the Wolf, but I suppose we can't know for sure. I would be interested to see Bergman's Trollflöjten which is his film version of the opera.