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Many thanks to Boblipton for his earlier review. For the most part, I agree with his final evaluation. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" makes an interesting footnote to Powell's career, but it is in no way essential viewing. Criterion have indeed included it as an extra on the excellent release of Powell and Pressburger's "Tales of Hoffmann," which is about all anyone could expect. However, I want to offer a few corrections/additions to Boblipton's review:
1.) The cinematographer for "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" was NOT Freddie Francis; it was Christopher Challis, who was also the cinematographer for "Tales of Hoffmann." (In fact, Powell was largely successful in reassembling his crew from "Hoffmann," including Challis and editor Reginald Mills and production designer Hein Heckroth.) Francis merely served as camera operator -- a job he filled on both films.
2.) The music for these version of "Sorcerer's Apprentice" is NOT the famous score composed by Paul Dukas (which most people know through its use in Disney's "Fantasia"). A relatively obscure German composer named Walter Braunfels created the score for this ballet. Even IMDb gets this one wrong....
3.) Part of the reason that this film lacks the panache of "Hoffmann" is that Powell was brought in to direct the English-language version of this ballet, which had been created primarily for German television. (It was, in fact, production designer Hein Heckroth who asked Powell to get involved.) Powell didn't really have much input and probably took the job while on a brief hiatus from his partnership with Pressburger, which was still active in 1955-56. Thus I attribute the lack of the typical Michael Powell flair to his being called in after the fact instead of being involved from the conception stage onwards.
4.) Sadly, we're still missing about 16 minutes of footage from this film. It originally ran about 30 minutes -- no doubt due to its television origins. But it was cut to 13 1/2 minutes before it was widely distributed and then stored in the BFI archives. I doubt that the missing 16 minutes would add much; we still get the full basic story. But the fact that so much was cut helps explain why the film seems so choppy.
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