In honor of Dennis Arundell’s translation of The Tales of Hoffman‘s lyrics (into English), how visually flawless, how totally heartless.
Hoffmann is not an adaptation of the opera, rather a filmic performance. Depending on your opinion, this approach is either the benefit or failure of the film. The performances–hopefully–were meant to be judged on their singing and dancing, because there’s no real acting going on. No characters being created, no conflict being charted. I spent the entire film looking at the clock.
The film is beautiful. The Archers do color German expressionist–but manage it well, with a few moments Fellini lifted. Except Fellini added human conflict to the moments, making them more than pretty. There’s a few really amusing moments when they concentrate on one of the supporting characters, not because she’s necessary, but because they can’t totally ignore the dramatic need….
Powell and Pressburger are so good–so beyond good–everyone ought to be a completist, making The Tales of Hoffmann a necessary viewing. If you like opera, you might even enjoy it.