BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE TALES OF HOFFMANN (1951) / CERT: U / DIRECTORS: MICHAEL POWELL, EMERIC PRESSBURGER / SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL POWELL, EMERIC PRESSBURGER / STARRING: MOIRA SHEARER, ROBERT ROUNSEVILLE, ROBERT HELPMANN / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 23RD
The spectacular Tales of Hoffmann, from the talented production company of Powell/Pressburger – the team who brought you the Technicolor classics A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes - is a work of art which should been seen by any filmmaker and fan of movies alike.
The new, 4K restoration, supervised by Mr. Pressburger’s widow, the Oscar winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker, along with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, the British Film Institute and Studiocanal, is breath-taking in every frame.
The story begins as our hero, Hoffmann (Rounseville) has finally found the love of his life, Stella (Shearer), at a theatre after a lifetime of disappointing romantic interludes. As he awaits his love’s arrival, fans and friends of Hoffmann pressure him to share his stories for their entertainment, wherein we have - portmanteau style - the Tale of Olympia (a surreal, tale that would fit right at home in Rostrum’s Universal Robots), the Tale of Giulietta (a journey into the supernatural), and the Tale of Antonia (a psychological battle of good and evil).
Each actor portrays their role with perfection right down to the background extras. It’s a world filled with bizarre, memorable, characters. Rounseville shows great pathos within Hoffmann, stirring us to care about his plight of love won and lost. We completely identify with him. Helpmann portrays four roles with gusto that are all evil and with sinister implications that you just want to jump into the film and strangle him. The beautiful Miss Shearer holds your attention during her ballet numbers with her seductive beauty and grace, and you truly see why she was one of the greatest dancers in the world.
Production values are dynamic and complex, as is the superb music by Jacques Offenbach, and the costumes are equally amazing. One can see why this film inspired film makers George A. Romero and Martin Scorsese.
The new, restored version with extra footage is finally released on DVD and Blu-ray, and it's one which should be in every film fan’s collection.
An artistic, fantasy classic that is timeless for young and old. Don’t miss it.
Special Features: Introductions from Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker / Brand new trailer / Stills gallery / Postcards / Booklet