Ingmar Bergman once made a movie out of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. In the convolute of the CD he tells us a little about the opera.
The Magic Flute was written for the common people. While the upper class wanted everything stiff and proper with great virtues in center, the common people wanted to be entertained. When the story tended to be pompous a character called Hans Wurst (“Johnny Hot Dog”) entered the scene.
Hans Wurst was a clown who added humor to an otherwise high-flown story.
In the case of The Magic Flute Papageno is this story’s Hans Wurst. The director of the theater Emanuel Schikaneder decided to play the part of Papageno himself. Since it was he who had written the libretto and also commissioned the opera from Mozart, he made sure that his character got the best songs.
This also meant that Hans Wurst no longer was a secondary character but challenged the main character, which disturbed the balance in the story.
The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl the use of Hans Wurst has returned on the form of Johnny Depp’s character Jack Sparrow. Without Jack Sparrow we would have a rather pompous story with Will Turner as a classic, old-fashioned hero like Errol Flynn’s characters once was. That is not what we want today. We, the common people, want to be entertained, hence the entrance of Hans Wurst as Jack Sparrow.
While this was a stroke of genius the sequels made the same mistake as in The Magic Flute: Hans Wurst cannot be the main character. Then the story looses in balance and in credibility.
So little makes the scale to tip over.
Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.