Essential Art House: Tales Of Hoffmann
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Top Customer Reviews
It also doesn't hurt that Jacques Offenbach's opera on which this is based is one of my favorite classical works (although this version edited by Sir Thomas Beecham is not for opera purists) while E.T.A. Hoffmann is one of my favorite fantasy writers (three of his stories THE SANDMAN, A NEW YEAR'S EVE ADVENTURE and RATH KRESPEL are used). This makes it even more remarkable that a single film could do justice to so many of my favorite likes. The new DVD release from Criterion is up to their usual high standards offering a crystal clear picture with excellent sound plus a host of extras including subtitles for all the dialogue and arias which enable you to understand what is going on with the story. I have had this film on VHS for years and have waited patiently for it to come out on DVD.Read more ›
The current issue on VHS states that it restores scenes eliminated prior to its release. This is not the case. (I attended the initial release in Southern California). The restored scenes are those eliminated from the film for its application to U.S. television release - a real hatchet job to its last act. As might have been expected it had no home on American TV.
In addition to making it whole with the initial theatrical presentation color has been substantially improved as compared with the original VHS release. This makes it true to what was seen in comercial release and well worth the price of admission.
However, there are still scenes tantalizingly referenced in the video packaging which wound up on the cutting-room floor before comercial release of the film and which do not appear on the VHS video. First is Franz's aria "Day & Night I Am Always Slaving" and brief exchanges with Crespel which serve to establish his deafness (These can be heard on the London LP recording of the sound track, and a still of Massine during this aria appeared in the color program which was sold at the Premier). Second was the scene in which Nicklaus became Hoffmann's golden-gilded muse.Read more ›
The sets, costumes, acting and choreography are colorful, surreal and almost unbearably beautiful. Director Powell must have empathized with the protoganist Hoffmann's plight of lost love, because there is a romantic aching to this film that transcends music, that is entirely visual. As much as I love Offenbach, watching this film with the sound off would be almost as entertaining.
Other attempts have been made to transfer opera to film, but most of them come off as just that, filmed opera, not especially cinematic, too respectful of the music to take chances. Rarely has a filmmaker utilized the full potential of film while making a movie of an opera. Zefferelli's La Traviata and Bergman's The Magic Flute are a couple of the success stories. But this is the greatest of them all.
In "The Tales of Hoffmann", Robert Rounsevill stars as E.T.A. (Ernst Theodore Amadeus) Hoffmann, the poet and writer who tells three stories of his great but unhappy loves all ending tragically thanks to the meddling of his enemy, a supernatural villain (Robert Helpmann as quadruple evil, Lindorf, Coppelius, Dapertutto and Dr Miracle). Objects of Hoffmann's love and admiration include Olympia the wind-up doll (Moira Shearer who also plays Stella the dancer, the fourth and yet another Hoffmann's misadventure), Giulietta, the Venetian courtesan who sails away after trying to capture Hoffmann's soul (Ludmilla Tchérina -absolutely brilliant as the siren and the seductress who elegantly walks over the dead bodies, literally), and Antonia the beautiful opera-singer with the fatal voice and deadly illness. One of the greatest choreographers and dancers of the last century, Léonide Massine shines in three absolutely different roles demonstrating his talent as a dancer, strong emotions and tremendous humor.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An absolutely stunning production with gorgeous music. Have watched this film many times over decades,Published 5 months ago by Dorothea A Madison
A brilliant film. Best staged production of The Tales of Hoffmann anywhere. A brilliant cast under one of the greatest conductors in the 20th Century.Published 5 months ago by Charles J.
Fantastic............ my mom described this to me for years, she apparently saw an import version of this in the late 50s and was blown away by the staging. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Christie S. Schultz
This RegioN 2 DVD is not playable in the U.S. unless you have special equipment. The website now has a sufficiently prominent warning, but it didn't when I purchased it. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Robert S.
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