Everyone knows about Amadeus (1984), but Mozart hasn’t shown up in a ton of other movies. Thus Interlude in Prague (2017) couldn’t help but be a fresh, new look at the composer’s life. But this little movie slipped away without much notice, despite a couple well-known actors and high production values. What little promotion I can find tries to paint the flick as a murder mystery or thriller, and alas, it is not that juicy. The plot is lightweight and a bit obvious, but the actors give it a fine shot, and when the whole thing looks this pretty, the film is still a pleasant way to pass an hour and a half. Much worse movies have done much better at the box office, y’know.
Purists need to be aware that this is based on some true events, but the actual story is pure fiction. Wolfgang Mozart first visited Prague for the month of January in 1787. Acclaimed soprano Josepha Dušek and her husband František Xaver Dušek had been among the group of musicians and admirers who invited Mozart to their city. He premiered Symphony No. 38, often called the “Prague Symphony,” because of this, and both the composer and his work were hugely successful. In October 1787, Mozart returned to Prague for the premiere of his opera “Don Giovanni.” And he returned three more times before his death in 1791.
What this movie does is take that first visit and insert a romance and some murders into it — don’t worry, Mozart is only involved in the former and with an invented character! He’s shown as being friends with Josefa Dušek, and her husband Franz is also a minor character. The story opens with Mozart’s visit, but the plot is driven by the evil Baron Saloka (James Purefoy) creeping on every female who comes under his super-creepy gaze. Seriously, this is the most obvious part of the movie. He is a Big Baddie from the very first scene, and anyone who can’t see it (characters in the movie included) are dumb!
At least the romance isn’t as cliched. It rather seems like Wolfgang (Aneurin Barnard) and Josefa (Samantha Barks [from Les Misérables AND another I’d Do Anything alum! — Kendra]) might get their flirt on, but instead a very sweet, gentle connection develops between the young soprano Zuzanna (Morfydd Clark) and the composer. Oh and he does at least consider the fact that he’s cheating on his wife Constanze, briefly shown as having gone to the spa to recover from the death of one of their children.
The film opens with Josefa starring in a performance of “The Marriage of Figaro,” and as the film progresses, Zuzanna auditions and practices for the part of Cherubino in the opera. This puts most of the scenes between Josefa, Zuzanna, and Mozart and eventually just Zuzanna and Mozart. And thus does romance blossom. But also, this means plenty of opportunity for pretty female 18th-c. costumes, and that’s where the movie delivers. For what I’d guess isn’t a really big budget movie, Interlude does have really lovely costumes, plus well-done hairstyling, and it all hews reasonably close to the 1780s time period. I kept thinking all these outfits must be rented from more well-known productions, but I only found one on the Recycled Movie Costumes site, and I don’t actually recognize any others. So go you, costume designer Pam Downe, who previous to this had mostly done period TV and then went on to do the second season of The Spanish Princess!
Let’s admire this work!
The first character we meet is the ol’ Baron, who is elegantly kitted out with all this embroidery. But he wears DARK colors and lurks in the shadows, so you know he’s BAD.
He’s at the opera, where we see these outfits — don’t worry, the crazy wig and makeup is just for the stage!
OK, with that over, Mozart comes to town and stays with Josefa and hubs (who pops in only briefly). Josefa has this lovely undress look for breakfast with Wolfgang.Wolfgang, Josefa, and her husband attend a masquerade (I’m not sure why, but it’s REALLY PRETTY). Oh, the Baron shows up, so there’s probably a plot-point I missed because I was distracted by the shiny.
Back in the more mundane world, Zuzanna talks about her opera career with parents, but they want to marry her off to the ol’ Baron. Dun dun duh!
Let’s look at this yellow dress, which Zuzanna first wears in this scene and will wear multiple times throughout the movie. I kept thinking it might be repeat of this or this, but nope. While the bodice design is similar, this gown is of a very specific subtle stripe pattern, plus it has long, straight sleeves.Zuzanna mostly wears her hair in this style throughout the film. While I couldn’t ID other costumes, here’s one that’s definitely recycled — it was first made for The Duchess (2008). Zuzanna wears it during her big audition.
Her parents are always dressed well, and again, I’m impressed by dad. That coat is distinctly late 1780s, almost 1790s, in cut.Zuzanna and Josefa start chatting about singing stuff. And they’re wearing my favorite 18th-c. fashion — JACKETS. I raved about this in my Patreon review of Belle (2013) because there were lots of jacket-y shapes and styles starting in the 1770s, and I’m always a little surprised that costume designers don’t use them as much. I’d think 18th-c. jackets would be easier to mix-and-match for different costumes and easier to fit since you could pair them with various skirts. Plus, jackets don’t use as much fabric (yes, I’ve made more jackets than full gowns for all these reasons!). Interlude in Prague is finally the movie that gets me when it comes to 18th c. and jackets! Now one thing I wondered about Josefa’s jackets — are these similar to that 1780s “falling collar” style which Kendra pointed out? The collars here aren’t exactly the flowing, waterfall effect as the other ones, and none have the contrast color. But if you look closely (click to see the large image), I do think some of these are folded over, not two separate layers, which would be more historically accurate. It’s a nitpick when the jackets look so great, but hey, we’re here to point this stuff out!
Do you see the folds on these jacket collars? Discuss in the comments!
Now Zuzanna’s one jacket doesn’t seem to have the same issue. It’s a wider neckline, for one, with just one narrow-ish collar, and also a lot of it is covered by a neckerchief so if it has floppy folds, we’ll never know.
Now here’s the coolest costume in the movie! The fabric is just amazing, and the design perfectly makes use of the stripes. The fringe is a lovely touch. Zuzanna wears this in several scenes.
Last couple bits — Zuzanna’s mom gets a smart habit for travel.
And we love a historical sewing shot in a movie around here, so I have to include the dressmaker, even if she doesn’t get a happy ending.
Have you seen Interlude in Prague?
That yellow gown Morfydd Clark is wearing looks a lot like the one she wore at the end of Love & Friendship.
The costumes are gorgeous although that machine embroidered fabric early on looks like those faux silk curtains at Bed Bath and Beyond. And, don’t you think Mom’s travelling outfit and hat look very very late Victorian?
Mom’s habit is earlier than 1780s but still solidly 18th-century with those wide skirts & lapels. I’m gonna cheat & link to Kendra’s research here (also, I used to have one a lot like this, lol) — http://demodecouture.com/18th-century-riding-habitses/
Interesting, I might have to check this out. For me, Aneurin Barnard wouldn’t be an obvious choice for Mozart but in this context he does remind me a bit of the Joseph Lange portrait.
Yes, I did see this movie, which I watched solely for the JPF (= James Purefoy Factor). It was good, not great. But it LOOKED great. I thought everyone was well-cast. It’s just that the actor who plays Mozart was supposed to be the handsome young love interest, but I thought he looked like a child next to the oh-so drool-worthy James Purefoy. I wish James Purefoy’s character had more depth rather than just PURE evil and that he’d been shown turning down women who wanted to be with him. I mean, they cast the most handsome man in the world and then they had NO women actually WANT to be with him based on his sex appeal alone? I liked the friendships in the movie, too.
A. Also–I vote for MORE posts in which y’all snark and/or comment on each other’s comments in the photo captions!!
B. For bibliophiles: I highly recommend the historical fiction novel The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow. If this plot of this film intrigues you, then you will probably enjoy this novel. Plus, the audiobook narrator is amazing.
Purefoy was so unattractive in this flick! Dour, dull, & Mr. Baddie all the way thru. Kind of a cartoon villain, which is a pity.
Overall a “pretty” movie, but not a terribly deep or smart one.
I agree with everything you said about the movie and about James (but I was drooling anyway). Go figure!!
I hate when such a wonderful actor (and God-tier thirst trap) is so egregiously wasted… it would have been so much better to give him the “Colonel Brandon” treatment!
Yes, I’m biased. #PurefoyIsPureJoy
Unfortunately the movie never made it into the cinema in Germany (or at least in Freiburg). Therefore I have to juge from the photos. The costumes are looking very typical for todays European production. Some extras such as from the masquerade have poor costumes (maybe from the collection of a theater?). The rooms are looking good enough. In times when even historical figures often get a nonsense story around them (I remember “Geliebte Schwestern” about Schiller’s love for the Lengefeld sisters, “Goethe!” about the young J.W. v. Goethe and his youth in Wetzlar mixed with his novel “Die Leiden des jungen Werther”) the movie is not far too crazy. At least the costumes of the male and female characters are fitting together really well (sometimes we see that the girls are living in the 1780s while the boys are living in the 1750s for some reason) and the quality is not too different.