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The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)

The Tales of Hoffmann


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 16
Fresh: 13
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 6
Fresh: 5
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 355


Movie Info

Most baby-boomers are familiar with the Powell-Pressburger production of the Offenbach opera Tales of Hoffman only through the full-color stills from the film which were reproduced in the "Motion Picture" section of The World Book Encyclopedia. If this is your only memory of the film, we advise you to seek out a copy of this lengthy but visually enthralling picture as soon as possible. Metropolitan opera star Robert Rounseville plays Hoffman, a university student who is spectacularly unlucky in … More

Action & Adventure , Romance , Musical & Performing Arts , Classics , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Nov 22, 2005


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Critic Reviews for The Tales of Hoffmann

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (3) | DVD (9)

One of the most completely realized marriages of color, movement, and music in the medium's history.

Full Review… | November 26, 2012
AV Club
Top Critic

Hard to take, despite the clear personal commitment of director Michael Powell and the enormous amount of talent on display in the photography, set design, and choreography.

Full Review… | November 26, 2012
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

As intensely expressionistic as any film since Caligari, and at the same time a veritable nova of springtime élan, the movie inhabits a unique puppet-theater universe, and could seduce a eunuch.

Full Review… | November 26, 2012
Village Voice
Top Critic

A lush, resplendent production that's a treat to eye and ear.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Top Critic

It sates the senses without striking any real dramatic fire.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Sumptuous spectacle.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

While the dizzying array of design elements and magnificent vocal performances is impressive, 138 minutes is just too long to keep the interest of any but the pure opera devotee.

Full Review… | November 26, 2012
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Lavishly mounted with some of the same actors of The Red Shoes, this filmed operetta is more impressive in its production design (Oscar nominated) than emotional impact.

Full Review… | October 21, 2012

As with The Red Shoes, the Archers achieve a truly amazing fantasy world, almost like a cartoon in which anything is possible.

Full Review… | June 12, 2009
Combustible Celluloid

For all the spectacle, it is more abstract than involving and the film never pumps with the blood of romantic passion that flows through so many Powell movies.

Full Review… | January 1, 2009
Turner Classic Movies Online

... a truly sumptuous opera--one of cinema's best efforts.

Full Review… | August 9, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The result is a testament to both [Powell and Pressburger's] creativity and the inherent limitations of trying to transform one medium into another.

Full Review… | December 11, 2005
Q Network Film Desk

Eye candy for aesthetes.

Full Review… | November 26, 2005
Slant Magazine

An unusual, magical, cinematically brilliant movie that deserves to be seen.

Full Review… | July 24, 2001
Edinburgh U Film Society

Audience Reviews for The Tales of Hoffmann

During the first intermission of a ballet in Nurnberg, students and other members of the audience retire across the street to a tavern for a quick beer before Act 2. While there, Hoffman(Robert Rounseville) starts to tell his stories of woe. So compelling are they, that his audience decides to skip the rest of the ballet, with the pipes being broken out, to hear what else he has to say; starting in Paris before the Eiffel Tower was built where he encountered Olympia(Moira Shearer).

"The Tales of Hoffman" is a highly entertaining mix of ballet and opera, where Moira Shearer dances her legs off while everybody else sings their hearts out. Visually, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger pull out all the stops with the aid of cinematographer Christopher Challis who makes the perfect use of Techicolor for these dreamlike fantasia, each set in a different locale. As such as the movie is about the different expressions of art(Hoffman is a famed poet by the end), these settings also resemble paintings and are works of art in themselves. It is no wonder then that Hoffman gets so lost in them, missing what is right in front of him all the time, the constant companionship of his faithful friend Nicklaus(played by Pamela Brown, thus even adding a bit of genderblending into the equation) through thick and thin.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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