The Tales of Hoffmann Based on Jacques Offenbach's operatic adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's macabre stories, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's hand-tooled fantasia The Tales of Hoffmann is a dazzling… The Tales of Hoffmann Based on Jacques Offenbach's operatic adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's macabre stories, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's hand-tooled fantasia The Tales of Hoffmann is a dazzling…
DVD Review

The Tales of Hoffmann (2005)

EW's GRADE
B

Details Release Date: Nov 22, 2005; DVD Release Date: Nov 22, 2005; Movie Rated: Unrated; Genre: Musical; With: Moira Shearer

Based on Jacques Offenbach's operatic adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's macabre stories, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's hand-tooled fantasia The Tales of Hoffmann is a dazzling technical showcase, from its rich, sensuous Technicolor to its copious special effects, which are no less effective for their theatrical origins. When Moira Shearer's whirling clockwork figurine is dismembered bit by bit, being able to see her ''missing'' limbs cloaked in black velvet only heightens the complicity; it's a magic trick requiring audience participation. A logical distillation of Powell and Pressburger's Red Shoes, Tales' splendid excess sometimes tilts toward gaudiness. What's nectar to some is syrup to others, an overcooked reduction that can be too thick to swallow. EXTRAS Think you're too macho for Tales? Directors Martin Scorsese — who cops to the film's influence on Taxi Driver — and George A. Romero — who swiped the dismembered body bit for Creepshow — beg to differ. Production designer Hein Heckroth's sketches (which are art in their own right) are included on the disc, as well as Powell's Sorcerer's Apprentice, a balletic short subject from 1956 with nary a dancing bucket in sight. But where are the 11 minutes cut from Tales before its release?

Originally posted Nov 25, 2005 Published in issue #852 Dec 02, 2005 Order article reprints
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