The Tales of Hoffmann - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Tales of Hoffmann Reviews

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September 24, 2016
Lush, elaborate follow-up to THE RED SHOES; highly regarded by some, panned by others.
November 3, 2015
A visually unforgettable film that is set both back & on stage of the opera.

With visuals, backgrounds, make up & costumes that are truly timeless & completely stunning.

Difficult to appreciate without subtitles but the directing team of Emmerich & Pressburger is an unmissable event in cinema. A stunning rimless portrait of a film.
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2015
The famed Powell/Pressburger team bring us an opulent staging of Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffman," an opera divided into three parts in which the title character tells a tavern about his doomed past loves. The first and longest section, involving Moira Shearer as a life-size doll, is easily the most entertaining and includes cute, no-tech illusions of her body being "disassembled." Otherwise, the stories aren't easy to follow except in the broadest way (a prostitute and magician plot to steal Hoffman's reflection, and an opera singer sings herself to death), because the shrill lyrics are too difficult to discern. Furthermore, only two of the actors do their own singing, and there is an palpable awkwardness with the syncing -- especially when ballet dancers are trying to mouth words as they dance. The best features are Shearer's willowy dancing and Robert Helpmann's mugging as the recurring villain (he'd be perfectly at home in a Fritz Lang silent). And this is Powell and Pressburger, so of course the colors and sets are like magical paintings come to life.
½ May 24, 2015
Despite the dubbing, it was a groundbreaking risky movie done for the pure sake of creating art. Watch it with subtitles, otherwise you might miss a bit.
½ March 19, 2015
Beautifully done, visually out of this world. I'm a big fan of the opera actually and this film does a great job of compacting it and moving it along. I kind of wish they had just had a better looking guy as Hoffmann and different vocalists... that sort of old fogey style overdone opera voice doesn't do it for me. But then again it was the 50s so whatever.
January 25, 2015
a fascinating potpourri of art, music and dance
June 24, 2014
a little long but still worth the trip
August 14, 2013
Beautiful, but not substantial.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
February 4, 2013
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.
June 23, 2012
Parfois confus, rien que dans la traduction, passage de l'oeuvre originale en franšais a l'anglais du film... sous-titre en franšais. D'ou un decalage et des approximations. Par contre c'est visuellement assez impressionnant.
April 8, 2012
Taking a step forward from their cinematic ballet, The Red Shoes but never quite capturing the magic, Tales of Hoffman is never the less an incredible experiment in cinematic opera. The camera work is stunning (as is the case with most Powell/Pressburger films) and the set-pieces are the star of the show. There is less emphasis here on individual character, which gives the film a sense of hollowness as compared to other Archer triumphs. On its own though Tales is an infectious dream of a film and a true original through and through.
February 6, 2012
A colorful film of pure imagination and elequence. The directing team of Powell and Pressburger reaffirm their mastery of fantasy.
½ December 30, 2011
A wonderful piece of operatic cinema, even better than this Powell & Pressbuger fan expected.
November 5, 2011
Fantastic if you like Opera.
March 23, 2011
In my opinion, not quite up to the level of the Powell-Pressburger's masterpiece, THE RED SHOES, but still quite colorful and engaging.
December 16, 2010
Beautiful ballet and amazing art design in this self-reflexive fantasy opera from Powell and Pressburger. Robert Rounseville in the lead is a little too pouty for me, and some jokes fall flat (and long), but the tongue-in-cheek tone and terrific set pieces make up for any lost footing.
½ December 6, 2010
totally weird but visually spectacular.
November 14, 2010
I don't enjoy this film quite as much as George A. Romero or Martin Scorsese do, but it's worth seeing, particularly for the visuals thanks to Hein Heckroth's production design and the Technicolor cinematography (even though Jack Cardiff didn't work on this one). It's always a joy to see Moira Shearer onscreen again, though THE RED SHOES is a much better film in all departments.
½ November 7, 2010
Not what I was expecting at all, but a treat nontheless. It's a cliche, but the visual inventiveness really has to be seen to be believed.
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