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The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)

Not Rated | | Fantasy, Music, Musical | 13 June 1952 (USA)
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A melancholy poet reflects on three women he loved and lost in the past: a mechanical performing doll, a Venetian courtesan, and the consumptive daughter of a celebrated composer.

Writers:

(English libretto), (from the French text by) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Ann Ayars ...
Pamela Brown ...
Léonide Massine ...
...
Frederick Ashton ...
Kleinsach / Cochenille
Mogens Wieth ...
Robert Rounseville ...
Lionel Harris ...
Philip Leaver ...
Meinhart Maur ...
Edmond Audran ...
Partner to Stella in Dragonfly ballet
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Storyline

This a film version of the opera "The Tales of Hoffmann", however it is NOT just a film of a staged performance. 'Michael Powell' & Emeric Pressburger (and the rest of "The Archers") work their usual magic here. The opera dramatises the three great romances in the life of the poet-hero presented in a series of flashbacks. Hoffmann's tales depict the struggle between human love and the artist's dedication to his work. Hoffmann loses each of the women he loves but gains instead poetic inspiration -- the ability to transform painful experiences into art. Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

poet | dance | ballet | singing | dancing | See All (36) »

Taglines:

You Will Never See Anything Finer On The Screen!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 June 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hoffmanns Erzählungen  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$23,340 (USA) (13 March 2015)

Gross:

$90,365 (USA) (5 June 2015)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(reduced to 128 mins before release)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A 4K digital restoration has been made of the film by Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation. This includes some scenes that were missing from recent prints and an unseen section introducing the actors and singers. Like the other restorations they have done of Powell & Pressburger films this isn't just a new print. They went back to the original material, digitised & cleaned up every frame & the optical soundtrack. Bear in mind that for a 3-strip Technicolor film that's 3 frames for every frame you see on screen. Then they put them all back together, checking the registration and restoring the old Technicolor look and feel. This restored version was premièred at the 2014 Venice Film Festival and has since been shown at the Lyons & London Film Festivals to be followed by other festivals and cinema screenings around the world. There will also be a DVD/Blu-ray release. See more »

Goofs

During Olympia's song, Moira Shearer isn't miming for quite lengthy sections - as she is pirouetting quite fast in some of these sections, it is understandable that she'd want to concentrate on her balance. See more »

Quotes

Chorus of Students: Some drink, drink, drink, drink, drink: do you hear us about? You lazy lout! We want some beer; we want some wine! Pour out the wine, and drink and drink till morning. Pour out the wine for drinking is divine. It is divine. We want some beer; we want some wine. We want some beer; we want some wine.
See more »

Connections

Version of Les contes d'Hoffmann (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

The Tales of Hoffmann, A Fantastic Opera
Music by Jacques Offenbach
Arranged by Thomas Beecham (uncredited)
English libretto by Dennis Arundell
From the French text by Jules Barbier
Conductor: Thomas Beecham (as Sir Thomas Beecham Bart.) with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sung by Robert Rounseville, Dorothy Bond, Margherita Grandi, Ann Ayars (as Ann Ayars), Monica Sinclair, Joan Alexander, Grahame Clifford, Bruce Dargavel, Murray Dickie, Owen Brannigan, Fisher Morgan, Rene Soames, and The Sadler's Wells Chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A grand artistic vision
18 February 2006 | by (India) – See all my reviews

TALES OF Hoffman – Powell & Pressburger This colorful film adaptation of an by Offenbach is a musical in the truest sense, meaning every bit of narrative and dialog is put forth by means of song. I am not in general the biggest fan of such endeavors, but it works quite well for this film, although some of the love paeans may be outstaying their welcome.

In the story a poet – Hoffman – tells in episodic fashion about the many times that he has loved and lost. There have been several films made with such a theme but Hoffman stands well apart because of the Goth-fantastic nature of the narratives. Hoffman, in turn, falls in love with Olympia - a puppet, Guiletta - the temptress of a soul-stealing demon, and Antonia - a singer doomed by fatal consumptive illness.

This narrative is complemented by the brilliantly supportive artistic design of the film. The makers construct a deliberate stage-like ambiance, with the use of representative backdrops, suitably exaggerated props and striking motifs to convey the settings and moods of the various episodes. In this aspect it shares strong kinship with Masaki Kobayashi's period ghost story anthology Kwaidan. You also have the concept of the same actor returning to play different parts in the various episodes of Hoffman's life, the most notable of which is Robert Helpmann who portrays the sinister element in all the episodes (and with his vampiric menacing look, does a terrific job of it, although his motive for evil in the Antonia episode goes unexplained).

The fantastic elements of the plot, color-drenched distinctive look, intricate balletic choreography and excellent fit of all the actors in their roles make Tales of Hoffman a very interesting watching experience on the whole.

One of my caveats with the film is that Hoffman's companion Nicklaus is never properly explained. Who is this woman in man's garb and why is she doing what she does?


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