Introduction by Martin Scorsese
In some ways an artistic “sequel” to The Red Shoes, The Tales of Hoffmann is Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1951 version of French composer Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 opera, in turn based on three stories by the late 18th–early 19th century German author E.T.A. Hoffmann. Where the earlier film was a narrative that was set in motion by and moved to music and dance, The Tales of Hoffmann is a pure opera, a film composed entirely of music, dance, color, light, and rhythm. And pure fancy. Powell and Pressburger put together a spectacular team for this film—Sir Thomas Beecham conducted the Royal Philharmonic; Moira Shearer, Lumilla Tchérina, Robert Helpmann, and Léonide Massine (all from The Red Shoes) danced principal roles along with the choreographer Frederick Ashton; Robert Rounseville played Hoffmann and sang, Hein Heckroth was the production designer, and Christopher Challis the cinematographer. The restoration of this singularly thrilling film, years in the making, was closely supervised by Powell’s widow, Thelma Schoonmaker. Restored by The Film Foundation and the BFI National Archive in association with Studiocanal. Restoration funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Franco-American Cultural Fund, The Film Foundation, and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation. A Rialto Pictures release.