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PREVIOUSLY PLAYED

THE TALES OF HOFFMANN

Note New Showtimes:
12:303:306:50

Final Day - Thursday, March 26

Directed by MICHAEL POWELL & EMERIC PRESSBURGER

NEW 4K RESTORATION

(1951) As Moira Shearer (the prima ballerina of The Red Shoes) pirouettes through the Dragonfly pas de deux, a scheming Robert Helpmann intercepts a backstage billet-doux, as Robert Rounseville’s Hoffmann recounts for his cronies in a smoky next-door tavern the tales of his three lost loves: Shearer again as the mechanical protégée of Diaghilev legend Leonide Massine; Ludmilla Tchérina as a Venetian courtesan; and Ann Ayars’ Greek-islanded soprano who mustn’t sing. Casting dancers (except for Rounseville and Ayars) who embody the choreography of Frederick Ashton against the delirious designs of Hein Heckroth — color-coded gold, red, and blue respectively for each of the episodes — with a menacing Helpmann Hoffmann’s nemesis throughout, Powell and Pressburger’s adaptation of comic operetta roi Jacques Offenbach’s sole opera realized Powell’s dream of a complete “composed film,” what he had achieved in the climax of Black Narcissus, the whole of the mise en scène edited to a pre-recorded score, in this case conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham (see Unfaithfully Yours, April 15), who had originally suggested the work, glimpsed in a telling cameo at the finale, with a wry visual gag as the topper. A favorite film of both Powell and Pressburger booster Martin Scorsese and, more surprisingly, horror icon George Romero, who first saw it at age eleven: “It just took me into another world in terms of its innovative cinematic technique. It really got me going.” This new restoration, supervised by Thelma Schoonmaker Powell, wife of the director and Scorsese’s longtime film editor, is the most complete version ever seen in this country. Approx. 133 min. DCP.

A RIALTO PICTURES RELEASE

Restored by the Film Foundation and the BFI National Archive, in association with StudioCanal. 
Restoration funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Franco-American Cultural Fund: A unique partnership between the Director’s Guild of America (DGA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM), and the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW), the Louis B. Mayer Foundation, and the Film Foundation. 

Reviews

AN AUDACIOUS ESSAY IN FILM FANTASY!  IT’S CRAZY, TWEE, CAMP, EXHILARATING, TRITE, BOLD! This 1951 film belongs to a bewildering number of categories. It’s lip-sync opera, multilayered meta-theater (indeed, a dizzyingly baroque exercise in overt artifice), kitsch extravaganza of luridly colored design and keenly musical ballet.”
– Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times
Click here to read the full review

*****! [5 STARS] [highest rating]
CRITICS’ PICK!
“A DREAM FOR LOVERS OF PURE SPECTACLE! One of the most visually sumptuous films ever shot… resplendent in primary colors and crammed with the painterly backdrops and sly camera tricks that were Powell’s stock-in-trade. Comes close to genius as a shock of pure cinema.”

– Time Out New York

“THE PINNACLE OF CINEMATIC ART! [Combines] music, dance and cinema into a captivating whole in lush Technicolor…the phantasmagorical quality of this intoxicating fantasy also evokes the magic-lantern projections that brought phantoms and demons to life in the darkness before the invention of motion pictures.”
 Kristin M. Jones, Wall Street Journal

Click here to read Susan King's LA Times feature on The Tales of Hoffmann

Click here to read Sheila O'Malley's interview at RogerEbert.com with Thelma Schoonmaker Powell on the restoration of The Tales of Hoffmann 


“A HELLZAPOPPIN’ OPERA! AS INTENSELY EXPRESSIONISTIC AS ANY FILM SINCE CALIGARI! Powell and Pressburger were never as grand or wildly sensual.”
– Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

“SUMPTUOUS SPECTACLE! REVELS IN RICH COLORS, FANTASTIC COMPOSITIONS AND SWOONING MOVEMENTS!” 
– Geoff Andrew, Time Out (London) 

"INTENSELY EXPRESSIONISTIC! WILDLY SENSUAL!” 
– Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice 

"TRULY UNLIKE ANYTHING I’D EVER SEEN BEFORE! EVERY ELEMENT TRANSFIXED ME!” 
– Martin Scorsese

"This revelatory 4K restoration (containing previously unseen footage) from the original 3-strip Technicolor negative unleashes feverish colors straight from the candy box: a cacophony of clashing yellows and purples as disturbing as they are enchanting. Out of this decadent world of surreal, sensual delights, Ludmilla Tchérina seduces us as a 19th-century dominatrix; a menacing chorus of pan-sexual mannequins appear to have raided the dressing-up box of Marc Bolan and, most unsettling of all, there’s the image of Moira Shearer’s dismembered head as it blinks back at us.”
– Robin Baker, London Film Festival

“Reveals a kaleidoscope of references, not only to German romanticism, but to cinema, painting and theater. Here, truly, ‘all art is one’... Emerges as the locus classicus of all of Powell and Pressburger’s most distinctive ideas and images. Here the graphic fantasy of Disney and Eisenstein’s notion of ‘synesthesia’ join forces — as those two great artists once hoped they would... Flaunts its evident economy of means, creating sumptuous décor from simple drapes, a grand staircase merely painted in perspective on the floor - its stylization becomes a constant metaphor for the transforming power of imagination through art.”
– Ian Christie

“The perfect combination of music, dance, song, acting, design and beautiful women. As Cecil B. DeMille had said, you can have everything.” 
– Michael Powell

Listen

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THE TALES OF HOFFMANN/ Intro by George Romero

(Recorded March 14, 2015)
THE TALES OF HOFFMANN

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THE TALES OF HOFFMANN / Intro by Paul Cremo

(Recorded March 15, 2015)
THE TALES OF HOFFMANN