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DCA Archive

The Tales of Hoffman

Spurred on by the success of their masterpiece, The Red Shoes, the Archers (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger and their peerless team of collaborators) set out to make another ballet film that was even more lavish, spectacular and experimental than its predecessor. The result was The Tales of Hoffmann. The film is based on Offenbach’s unfinished final opera, but this is no work of canned theatre. Rather, the Archers, working with a cast mainly comprising dancers, sought to combine the arts – music, choreography, design, theatre, photography, animation, you name it – in a way that Wagner could only dream of. The result is a dizzying folly, a film that is exhilarating and exhausting, rarefied and kitsch, but never less than extraordinary. Initially a flop, the film has been championed by the likes of Martin Scorsese and George A. Romero, and it has now been lovingly restored and awaits a new audience.