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  • The Tales of Hoffmann [1951] (REGION 1) (NTSC) [DVD] [US Import]
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The Tales of Hoffmann [1951] (REGION 1) (NTSC) [DVD] [US Import]

68 customer reviews

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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Product details

  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008YOFG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,954 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Fraser Montgomery on 2 Aug. 2008
Format: DVD
One of the finest and most unexpected opera productions ever to appear on DVD. Astonishing that it should have come out half a century ago and still seem so breathtakingly immediate. In a way it's a hybrid, with only three of the main singers appearing on the screen, the rest being danced. Yet there is no sense of dislocation - and what a cast, especially among the dancers. A precious record of four superb artists at the peak of their profession. Musically, too, of its period: yet effortlessly transcending it under the direction of Thomas Beecham. The sophistication is astonishing. Unforgettable visual images abound - images which seem to establish an authoritative version of a problematic, unfinished work before which which director after director has been found wanting. Not so Powell and Pressburger. They have never been on better form.
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer HALL OF FAME on 5 Jun. 2007
Format: DVD
Poor Hoffmann. He is a poet who is famously unlucky in love. As a young student in Paris, he first fell in love with Olympia (Moira Shearer). She was a gorgeous creature with pale, silken skin, luminous eyes and red hair. Unfortunately, she was an automaton. Then, as a man of the world in Venice, he fell in love with Giulietta (Ludmilla Tcherina). She was seductive, with black eyes that held promises and with long, raven hair. Unfortunately, she stole men's reflections and then their souls. Next, as a famous poet visiting a beautiful isle, he fell in love with Antonia (Ann Ayers), a young, passionate opera singer. Unfortunately, she suffered from consumption. Throughout it all, he is accompanied by a young and skeptical friend, Nicklaus (Pamela Brown), and followed by the sinister Lindorf (Robert Helpmann), who seems determined to thwart Hoffmann. Now, he waits in a tavern for his new love, the ballet dancer Stella (Moira Shearer). And while he waits and drinks, everyone urges Hoffmann to tell them the tales of his loves. And in this opera by Jacques Offenbach, and in this marvelous movie by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, he does.

The Tales of Hoffmann is a linear descendant of Powell's and Pressburger's The Red Shoes. The same themes of art, love, life and choices are explored. Even some of the same artists are present: Moira Shearer, Robert Helpmann, Leonide Massine and Ludmilla Tcherina. The Tales of Hoffmann, however, stakes out new ground. Powell and Pressburger have taken an opera and turned it into a fantasy of cinema unlike any opera ever staged, or any film ever made. It moves from light, amusing and eccentric to dark and sinister. An undercurrent of romanticism is present, but we end up with romantic pessimism.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER on 6 Feb. 2015
Format: DVD
To see The Tales of Hoffmann is a unique experience that leaves you wanting to go through the fantastic scenes all over again. Sometimes seen as a decline from the pinnacle of The Red Shoes, made three years earlier in 1948, it is nevertheless the realisation of Powell's ambition to create "a composed film", meaning one which combines opera with cinematic images of the intensity and interest that the medium offers. It also makes the main character a ballerina, so that singing and dancing are combined to humorous effect in one of the Tales, an impossibility for any performer to pull off. At the beginning we see Moira Shearer "on stage" in The Enchanted Dragonfly, a romantic ballet with eye-popping sets and costume design. But this is only the Prologue; she is loved by the poet Hoffmann, who, in dejected mood because his note to her has been intercepted unbeknownst to him, leaves the theatre to tell the story of his three loves to a group of students in a tavern. The three parts which follow are all in different colour schemes and highly fantastical, often drawing on the supernatural, as the directors did at the end of The Red Shoes. But that tone is sustained throughout here, and realism dispensed with, even in the tavern itself, where figures dance around massive beer mugs with faces as Hoffmann sings his brilliant number about the clown Kleinzach. The first of his lovers is a wind-up doll, blissfully played with a mixture of supple grace and stiffness by Shearer, then it takes off to a wonderfully artificial Venice, all superimposed water and vampish ploys from a courtesan who steals men's souls - and their reflections - for an evil pimp.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rego on 20 April 2015
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The film has been beautifully restored, and the Blu Ray transfer is excellent. Sadly at the time this film was made the British film industry was not quite as advanced as its American cousins in terms of technology. Whilst the Technicolor print is first class, the soundtrack is only Mono, and not as vibrant or dynamic as some American films of the same period, which were often made using stereo or multi channel sound. That said, the restoration is superb and the film is a joy to watch and a must for any Opera or Ballet enthusiasts. This film includes some of the greatest artists of the period if not of the last century
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Frank Belsey on 8 April 2009
Format: DVD
As a young teenager in 1951 I saw the orginal release at my local ABC.
I was so thrilled by it, never having seen opera or ballet before, that I made two more visits during the week it remained showing. I have seen it on tv once or twice since that time, and having it now on DVD is a dream come true. Over the years this film has lost none of it's magic, style and excitement, making most other of todays cinema experiences, little more than a way to pass the time. If you have never seen this film, I urge you to buy it and enjoy it time and time again.
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