The Tales of Hoffmann

The Tales of Hoffmann

Director: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell Cast: Moira Shearer, Robert Rounseville


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Most baby-boomers are familiar with the Powell-Pressburger production of the Offenbach opera Tales of Hoffman only through the full-color stills from the film which were reproduced in the "Motion Picture" section of The World Book Encyclopedia. If this is your only memory of the film, we advise you to seek out a copy of this lengthy but visually enthralling picture as soon as possible. Metropolitan opera star Robert Rounseville plays Hoffman, a university student who is spectacularly unlucky in affairs of the heart. Each of his love affairs with Olympia (Moira Shearer), Giulietta (Ludmilla Tcherina) and Antonia (Ann Ayars) is doomed to failure due to circumstances far beyond our hero's control (Olympia, for example, turns out to be nothing more than a life-sized mechanical doll). As in the previous Powell-Pressburger collaboration The Red Shoes, the film's best moments are its ballet sequences, choreographed by Jane Ashton. Offenbach's score is given a splendid rendition by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of the legendary Sir Thomas Beecham. Most prints of Tales of Hoffman run 118 minutes, eliminating the closing "Tale of Antonia" sequence; the laserdisc version has been restored to 127 minutes, while the search goes on for the complete 138-minute negative.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/22/2005
UPC: 0037429126226
Original Release: 1951
Source: Criterion
Sound: [Dolby Digital Mono]
Time: 2:07:00

Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital transfer; Audio commentary by director Martin Scorsese and film-music historian Bruce Eder. New video interview with director George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead). The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1956), a short musical film directed by Michael Powell, based on the Goethe story. Rare collection of production designer Hein Heckroth’s design sketches and paintings. A gallery of archival production and publicity photographs. Original theatrical trailer. A new essay by opera and film historian Ken Wlaschin. Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Moira Shearer Stella
Robert Rounseville Hoffmann
Robert Helpmann Lindorff,Dapertutto [The Tale Of Giulietta],Dr. Miracle [The Tale Of Antonia],Coppelius [The Tale Of Olympia]
Pamela Brown Nicklaus
Frederick Ashton Kleinzack,Cochenille [The Tale Of Olympia]
Léonide Massine Spalanzani [The Tale Of Olympia]
Meinhart Maur Luther
John Ford Nathaniel
Richard Golding Hermann
Philip Leaver Andreas
Ludmilla Tcherina Giulietta [The Tale Of Giulietta]
Lionel Harris Pitichinaccio [The Tale Of Giulietta]
Ann Ayars Antonia [The Tale Of Antonia]
Mogens Wieth Crespel [The Tale Of Antonia]
Jean Alexander Mother [The Tale of Antonia]
Edmund Audran Cancer
Bruce Darvaget Actor
Owen Brannigan Singer
Monica Sinclair Singer
René Soames Singer
Dorothy Bond Singer
Thomas Beecham Conductor

Technical Credits
Emeric Pressburger Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Michael Powell Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Dennis Arundell Screenwriter
Ivy Baker Costumes/Costume Designer
Thomas Beecham Musical Direction/Supervision
George R. Busby Producer
Christopher G. Challis Cinematographer
John Cox Sound/Sound Designer
Freddie Francis Camera Operator
Hein Heckroth Art Director,Costumes/Costume Designer,Set Decoration/Design
Arthur Lawson Production Designer
Reginald Mills Editor
Sydney Streeter Asst. Director

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Tales ot Hoffman
1. Opening Credits [3:53]
2. The Dragonfly Ballet [8:24]
3. Luther's Tavern [3:31]
4. "The Legend of Kleinzach" [3:54]
5. Threee Magic Visions [4:00]
6. Chapter 6 [5:49]
7. "Love Is Born" [3:20]
8. Coppelius [2:19]
9. Dance of the Dolls [2:27]
10. Olympia's Entrance [2:57]
11. "The Doll's Song" [5:39]
12. "Supper Is Served" [2:22]
13. Alone With Olympia [4:43]
14. "Let the Dancing Proceed" [4:00]
15. Olympia: Finale [1:46]
16. The Barcarolle [3:51]
17. The Orgy [4:23]
18. "So Gleam With Desire" [3:04]
19. "Oh Heaven, a Joy Divine [5:40]
20. Hoffman's Reflection [1:53]
21. Giulietta: Finale [1:47]
22. "All in Vain" [6:25]
23. "Sweet Is the Song..." [4:16]
24. Dr. Miracle [7:17]
25. "No More to Sing" [6:15]
26. "You'll Never Sing Again" [3:45]
27. Antonia: Finale [4:35]
28. Intermezzo [5:53]
29. Luther's Tavern: Finale [3:45]
30. Color Bars [2:41]

Customer Reviews

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4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw the original film in 1954, and it has haunted my memory ever since. Unbelieveably, the movie retains the splendor I recalled as an impressionable 14-year-old. I've never understood why Hoffman hasn't had the acclaim that other similar works possessed. This is a classic of the marriage of technique, use of the medium, glorious voices, and the inspired dancing of Moira Scherer. What a joy that this masterpiece is now receiving some of the recognition it so justly deserves.
REKNY More than 1 year ago
Offenbach's "Tales of Hoffmann" is a favorite of mine,no matter the edition, so I welcomed this reissue of an unusual 1951 movie in which music and dance wonderfully coexist. In a nutshell: Moira Shearer, Frederick Ashton and Leonide Massine, among others, dance to Offenbach's music while it is simultaneously sung by Robert Rounseville, Bruce Dargavel, Dorothy Bond, Ann Ayars, and others, and conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham. I'll not discuss the genesis of the film-the notes do that- but I will say there is nothing quite like it. The color and fantasy of Offenbach's masterpiece are fully evident, great singing, dancing and conducting, and important commentary by Martin Scorese and Bruce Eder.See this!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago