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This 13 minute ballet performed to Dukas' "The Sorceror's Apprentice" is included in the new DVD of the Powell-Pressberger TALES OF Hoffman. Powell did a movie of it, using the brilliant Freddie Francis as cinematographer. It provides a telling counterpoint to that movie and clearly illuminates why TALES is a great picture.
First and foremost, in TALES, camera angles vary in wild and dazzling method. That lends an excitement, movement and sense of weirdness that Francis' excellent but far more conventional camera placement in this piece lacks.
Powell started out in silent movies as an assistant to Rex Ingram, and visually he continued the traditions of silent film. No one except Minnelli ever used colors as boldly and effectively as Powell and Pressberger, in works like THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH and especially TALES. Here colors are used far more prosaically. And finally, Powell and Pressberger knew how to use sound for its emotional content -- think of the wind in I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING. Here, the music serves to direct the action.
In net, this is a jazzed up record of a ballet. A good one with a fine prima ballerina, but nothing more. But watched immediately before TALES -- watching it afterwards is impossible -- it lets one see how brilliant the Archers were.
A MONTH LATER: I must've been asleep when I wrote the review. Thanks to the other reviewer for correcting my foolish errors, which I leave here so that anyone reading this can enjoy a good horselaugh here at my expense.
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