Archive of films Tales of Hoffmann / The Tales of Hoffmann

United Kingdom
1951, 127 min

Section: Out of the Past
Year: 2015

Despite more than 60 years having elapsed since it was made, this unsurpassed film adaptation of Jacques Offenbach’s renowned opera remains one of Powell and Pressburger’s most admired films. The newly restored version of George A. Romero’s and Martin Scorsese’s favourite film is an enchanting Technicolor feast and an extravagantly surreal glimpse into the culminating era of silent cinema.


Inexperienced student Hoffmann is manipulated into falling in love with a mechanical doll named Olympia. Young man of the world Hoffmann is then enslaved by Giulietta, a beautiful Venetian courtesan. The heart of mature poet Hoffmann is stolen by a lovely, consumptive singer, Antonia. Now the well-known composer sits in a tavern and tells three stories of his distant loves. Although more than 60 years have passed since its release, this highly acclaimed work by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, with a cast of world-class singers and dancers, remains an unsurpassed film adaptation of an opera, in this case a famed piece by Jacques Offenbach. This newly restored version of the film whose only available 16mm copy was once fought over by George A. Romero and Martin Scorsese – both fanatical admirers of the British-Hungarian creative duo – is an enchanting Technicolor feast and an extravagantly surreal glimpse into the culminating era of silent film.

Karel Och

About the director

Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

Michael Powell (1905–1990), pictured on the right, and Emeric Pressburger (1902–1988), renowned directing-screenwriting-producing partners, are two of the most intriguing figures of 20th century European film. Between 1939 and 1972 they made 24 movies under The Archers production company banner, including The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death, and the legendary The Red Shoes. They repeatedly worked with cameramen Jack Cardiff and Christopher Challis and with art directors Alfred Junge and Hein Heckroth. In 2010 the 45th Karlovy Vary IFF presented a portion of their work in a tribute to the two great filmmakers.


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About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Out of the Past
Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Screenplay: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger podle opery / based on the opera by Jacques Offenbach
Dir. of Photography: Christopher Challis
Music: Jacques Offenbach
Editor: Reginald Mills
Art Director: Arthur Lawson
Producer: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Production: London Films, The Archers
Cast: Moira Shearer, Robert Helpmann, Léonide Massine
Sales: Tamasa Distribution

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