Morse is at the top of the list of suspects when his lady friend is found murdered. Even the loyal sergent lewis has to admit that all the clues point to morse when beryl newsome is stabbed at a dress rehearsal for the loc... more »al amateur dramatic societys production of the magic flute. Studio: Bfs Ent & Multimedia Limi Release Date: 02/04/2003 Run time: 105 minutes« less
"First thing to do is to ignore the "Part 1" above in the item title; you're getting the full-length (100 mins, approx.) episode of "Masonic Mysteries." In terms of the world of Inspector Morse, this is probably the Inspector Morse episode even people who wouldn't otherwise care for the series can enjoy (immensely, in most cases), as it's considerably different to any of the other 32 films in the series. Morse is "the hunted, instead of the hunter" for once, as he is being constantly framed (literally & figuratively) by someone whom he put away years ago and is trying to get his own back. The trials Morse is put through parallel the trials by fire & water in the Mozart opera, "The Magic Flute," which he is in rehearsals for at the beginning with his lady friend (played by Kevin Whately's real-life wife), who is subsequently found dead, before a dumbfounded Morse, knife-in-hand and covered in her blood. It's not based on a Colin Dexter novel and was written by Julian Mitchell, who has written/adapted more Morse screenplays than any other. Morse's close relationship with Lewis is manifested in this episode more than possibly any other. A great deal of humor is to be found in "Masonic Mysteries" (at the Masons' expense), especially from the brief exchanges between Chief Inspector Bottomley, who, working with Lewis, is put in charge of the case. Morse is uncharacteristically upbeat throughout most of the duration of the film, particularly especially given the circumstances he is put in. John Thaw regards this as among his three favorite Morse films (and cites its differing from the others as a factor in that), along with "The Dead of Jericho" ("for sentimental reasons") and "Promised Land". This is the first of two Morse films to be directed by Danny Boyle, the director of such cult hits as "Trainspotting" and "Shallow Grave". The incomparable Ian McDiarmid (who played "The Emperor" in the Star Wars films) stars as the evil-genius nemesis. The Inspector Morse series is widely regarded as the peak in televisual entertainment, and this is a prime example."
One of the best and most unusual of the Morse series.
Russell Fanelli | Longmeadow, MA USA | 08/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Masonic Mysteries is one of the best Inspector Morse DVDs and this is high praise indeed. Also, it is unique in that Morse is the prime murder suspect. The tables are turned as Morse finds himself the target of an ingenious adversary who has studied Morse's habits and who has access to Morse's home and the police data base in Oxford.
The story begins at a rehearsal for Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute. Morse discovers that a lady friend has been stabbed to death in a cloak room at the opera house. As the police arrive they see Morse holding the dead woman with what appears to be the murder weapon in his hand. Morse is immediately relieved of his duties by the Chief Constable. Morse is replaced by Chief Inspector Bottomley, a man who dislikes Morse and his methods and would like nothing better than to see Morse charged with murder.
Fortunately for Morse, his faithful assistant Sgt. Lewis believes in Morse's innocence and begins to collect the evidence that will eventually clear his boss. From beginning to end Lewis shines in this installment of the Inspector Morse series. He is almost as capable as Morse himself and Morse recognizes the value of his aid. Also, for the first time in this series, Morse himself is less curmudgeonly than ususal. Julian Mitchell, the writer of this installment in a lengthy series of mysteries, portrays Morse as vulnerable and confused, which is perfectly appropriate given the fact that Morse is imprisoned for a short time and seemingly helpless.
The reason for Morse's predicament is his adversary, Hugo de Vries. In all the Morse mysteries, de Vries is, perhaps, the most sinister and resourceful criminal Morse has faced. He reminds us of Sherlock Holmes' arch enemy, Professor Moriarty. De Vries is a killer, a con man, a computer hacker, and a thief, even though he looks like an Oxford don. All of Morse's skill and ingenuity are needed to defend himself from de Vries. The ending of the story is one more twist in a plot that is full of twists and turns.
Everything about Masonic Mysteries is first-rate. The cast includes John Thaw as Inspector Morse. Thaw is a fine actor and he is at his best as Inspector Morse. Kevin Whately is equally good as Morse's patient and long suffering Sergeant Lewis. Of special note is Ian McDiarmid as the evil Hugo de Vries. McDiarmid exudes cunning and deviltry. He is more than a match for Morse. The rest of the cast supports the leads perfectly.
The music in Masonic Mysteries is not just window dressing. Mozart's opera The Magic Flute can be heard throughout the program and Morse uses the libretto for The Magic Flute to try and help him understand the various clues in the case. In one chilling scene de Vries has placed an incendiary device in a special music tape that lulls Morse to sleep on his couch and almost kills him with a fire that destroys a portion of his home.
From first to last Masonic Mysteries is filled with murder and mayhem, twists and turns, hope and despair, and in the end a climax fitting to all the elements which have come before it. Those Morse fans who have not seen this installment are almost sure to love it. Those viewers new to the Inspector Morse series are in for a treat.
Morse in misery
Pamela Williams | Saginaw, Texas USA | 06/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is certainly a highly unusual entry in the series, given the fact that Morse is the chief suspect in a murder investigation. Morse is subjected to all sorts of trials and tribulations--- some of which are designed to create a trail of evidence framing Morse for more than one crime. One of the more amusing aspects of the mystery involves Morse's helplessness when confronted with computer technology and its bearing on the case. However, Sgt. Lewis, who never doubts Morse's innocence, comes to the rescue by utilizing his computer skills to help rescue Morse from his predicament. The role of Inspector Bottomley, who is assigned to investigate Morse, offers some amusement value as well. Bottomley, who belongs to a Masonic lodge, ends up looking rather foolish; moreover, he also seems to have been genuinely chagrined when Morse's innocence is finally established. In any event, this mystery represents an interesting and entertaining role reversal for Morse."
The Magic Flute
William J. Thor | Vero Beach | 12/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The music and story of The Magic Flute are used liberally in this excellent episode. Just as Tamino and Papageno must endure their trials in the opera, Morse must also face an extensive number of trials before moving on to the resolution of this episode. Morse has two romantic interests in this entry; the first is Beryl Newsome who is appearing in the chorus of The Magic Flute along with Morse. But alas Beryl is murdered very early in our story. The second is Marion Brooke with whom Morse sets a tentative lunch date - which never occurs. Her role over the balance of the story is certainly not what Morse had envisioned. James Grout, as Chief Superintendent Strange, has a larger part then usual, while Lewis' computer expertise foreshadows an important line of inquiry."
"Life...that's what leaves the mess, Lewis. Mad people ever
Mary Whipple | New England | 09/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Always somewhat cynical regarding human nature, Inspector Morse (the brilliant John Thaw) has more reason than usual to be cynical in this episode. His most recent lady friend, who is participating with him in a local production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, is called from a rehearsal and murdered. When the police arrive, Morse is bent over her, a knife in his hand. Subsequent investigation incriminates Morse further, and he is arrested for the murder. The obnoxious, by-the-book Chief Inspector Bottomley (Richard Kane) is in charge of the investigation, and, to add insult to injury, Sgt. Lewis (Kevin Whately), Morse's trusty sidekick, is assigned to assist Bottomley.
A fascinating mystery for its links to Morse's past cases, this is also a particularly unusual one. Mozart was a Freemason, and his opera, The Magic Flute, is filled with the symbolism of Freemasonry. The action of this episode, with its references to Zoroaster (Sarastro) and trials representing earth, air, fire, and water continue the symbolism within this episode, providing modern parallels, some of which are not fully explained to the viewer. Bottomley is a Mason, as are some of the other characters, and Morse, who is not a Mason, begins to wonder if this is a setup involving the secret Masonic Order.
While it is certainly a setup, Morse and the police may be looking in the wrong place. The body of a clergyman who runs a homeless shelter, which is found inside Morse's house, adds to the case against Morse, as does a check of his bank accounts. Morse's involvement in a fire provides the turning point in the investigation. Not as unified or clear for the viewer as some of the other Morse mysteries, this episode is still fun to watch, and the emphasis on the music, and Morse's position as a victim here, make this one of the most unusual of the Morse episodes.
Sgt. Lewis's expertise with the "new" computer and its languages and operations dates the story (which was filmed in 1990) but shows the contrast between the old and new methods of police detection. The final confrontation between Morse and the murderer emphasizes the vulnerability of British police, who do not carry guns, while the involvement of an unsuspected accomplice adds to the excitement of the episode. Well acted, as always, beautifully photographed, and consistent with the characterizations that lovers of this series have come to expect, the Masonic Mysteries is an appealing episode which may carry more significance for Freemasons than for the rest of us. n Mary Whipple "