Announcement

Collapse

Welcome to the www.Britmovie.co.uk forum

If this is your first time on the new forum since March 7th, 2017, please re-register with us once more.
Paypal contributions for the care and feeding of the forum may be made here:
PayPal Donations

The old bulletin board archive can be found here:
http://filmdope.com/forums/
See more
See less

Tales of Hoffman (1951)

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Tales of Hoffman (1951)

    This was a challenging film.



    I read through a synopsis of the opera before I watched the film, as filmed opera is not usually part of my list. But it is not just a "filmed opera". It is a film that transforms the material and turns it into something new.



    There are aspects of it that I had difficulty with: The lyrics are not always intelligible, and if I had not read the story first, some of the motivation would not have been clear. Robert Helpmann is weirdly, almost bizarrely miscast as the demonic antagonist in the Venice sequence, and some of the scenes in that section are over the top. The Antonia sequence is slow at the beginning, though necessary. The final redemption and explanation of Hoffman's experience is left out, which was bewildering.



    But those are minor quibbles; the film is a marvel. The comparisons with the great silent films that are on the commentary are, I think, accurate.



    I have watched several scenes three times in the last two days:



    The opening credits with the weather vanes snapping in time;



    The beer steins and wall figures coming to life in their own world of the tavern, reflecting the action (An irresistible sequence);



    The entire Olympia segment, with the transformation of Moira Shearer and the puppets and dolls into "living" people who are not alive, through magic spectacles. This idea is perfectly executed - a triumph of imagination and skill;



    Moira Shearer rocking slowly back and forth on a golden swing;



    The shock of her being literally torn apart after spinning off a golden stair;



    Ludmilla Tcherina floating on an airborne gondola and responding to her own singing reflection, and then seducing Hoffman (a very beautiful woman with the most beautiful hands I have ever seen);



    Hoffman losing his reflection and then gaining back his soul;



    The journey to a mythical Greek island for the Antonia sequence;



    The disturbing and mesmerizing search for her mother's soul;



    The final spellbinding scene of Moira Shearer;



    And all the way through the sanity and wit - and sadness - of Pamela Brown, who acts the entire part with her eyes alone.



    And the exhilarating "Made in England" stamp at the very end.



    A marvel.

  • #2
    Originally posted by TimR View Post
    This was a challenging film.
    Did you see the restored version (on the Criterion DVD or Blu-ray)?
    That has a bit of additional footage at the end which introduces all of the performers, the actors and the singers


    I read through a synopsis of the opera before I watched the film, as filmed opera is not usually part of my list. But it is not just a "filmed opera". It is a film that transforms the material and turns it into something new.
    It's not a film of a stage performance, it's a new art form (in 1951), a "filmic opera". It's an opera but they do quite a few tricks that would be impossible on stage

    And all the way through the sanity and wit - and sadness - of Pamela Brown, who acts the entire part with her eyes alone.
    Indeed. She was one of the few actors who really understood the difference between stage and film work
    Later on she played Jane Shaw, the KIng's mistress, in Olivier's Richard III (1955). She never says a word, she just acts with her eyes

    And the exhilarating "Made in England" stamp at the very end.
    We see Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the finale just before then.
    But the hand that stamps the closed score "Made in England" (in the year of the Festival of Britain) isn't Sir Tommy's

    A marvel.
    Indeed

    Steve

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Steve Crook View Post
      Did you see the restored version (on the Criterion DVD or Blu-ray)?
      That has a bit of additional footage at the end which introduces all of the performers, the actors and the singers



      It's not a film of a stage performance, it's a new art form (in 1951), a "filmic opera". It's an opera but they do quite a few tricks that would be impossible on stage


      Indeed. She was one of the few actors who really understood the difference between stage and film work
      Later on she played Jane Shaw, the KIng's mistress, in Olivier's Richard III (1955). She never says a word, she just acts with her eyes


      We see Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the finale just before then.
      But the hand that stamps the closed score "Made in England" (in the year of the Festival of Britain) isn't Sir Tommy's


      Indeed

      Steve

      I have only seen the DVD. I would like to see any additional scenes; when it ended I thought "Where is the rest of it?" I recall you mentioning that there was an epilogue with Nicklaus and Hoffman that sums up the tales - that is how the opera ends as well. And was it lost?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by TimR View Post


        I have only seen the DVD. I would like to see any additional scenes; when it ended I thought "Where is the rest of it?" I recall you mentioning that there was an epilogue with Nicklaus and Hoffman that sums up the tales - that is how the opera ends as well. And was it lost?
        Which DVD is it? There are quite a few that have been released, including bootlegs.

        The final scene with Nicklaus and Hoffman (with Nicklaus as the Golden muse) was filmed but was never shown anywhere (AFAIK), it was cut before any version of the film was released.

        The latest DVD & Blu-ray are the restored versions, restored by Scorsese's Film Foundation.
        They have a bit of additional footage at the end which introduces all of the performers, the actors and the singers
        But like all Film Foundation releases they mainly try to re-create the film as it was shown when originally released

        Steve

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Steve Crook View Post

          Which DVD is it? There are quite a few that have been released, including bootlegs.

          The final scene with Nicklaus and Hoffman (with Nicklaus as the Golden muse) was filmed but was never shown anywhere (AFAIK), it was cut before any version of the film was released.

          The latest DVD & Blu-ray are the restored versions, restored by Scorsese's Film Foundation.
          They have a bit of additional footage at the end which introduces all of the performers, the actors and the singers
          But like all Film Foundation releases they mainly try to re-create the film as it was shown when originally released

          Steve
          The 2005 Criterion release - I would be interested in seeing the Blu-ray as well. Any extra material is worth seeing.
          Yes, the Golden Muse sequence is what you had mentioned. Strange that it would be cut. Perhaps it might show up in some vault somewhere; although I suppose there has been so much careful attention and excellent work done to preserve their films that it is highly unlikely anything was overlooked.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TimR View Post

            The 2005 Criterion release - I would be interested in seeing the Blu-ray as well. Any extra material is worth seeing.
            Yes, the Golden Muse sequence is what you had mentioned. Strange that it would be cut. Perhaps it might show up in some vault somewhere; although I suppose there has been so much careful attention and excellent work done to preserve their films that it is highly unlikely anything was overlooked.
            Thelma & Marty couldn't find any sign of the Golden Muse sequence when they looked through the vaults to build the restoration

            Steve

            Comment

            Working...
            X