The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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TV Guide review

Tales of Hoffmann (1951)

This overly long opera film follows the life and loves of a young university student (Rounseville, in the title role). The poor fellow never succeeds in love -- one time falling for a doll created by a magician, another time falling in love with a girl who will die if she sings (and, of course, she does just that). All of the tales are done in exquisite detail and contain lavish dance numbers, including a stunning ballet sequence choreographed by Ashton and performed by him and Shearer (of The Red Shoes). But 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. The Tales of Hoffmann was a front-runner in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, but Powell and Pressburger refused to cut the last scene and so lost in the long run. The film, for all its spectacular sets and large number of cast and crew members, took only nine weeks to make. The final act was cut for the British version to make it more appealing to the masses. [The final act being cut was requested by Korda but I don't think it was ever cut] Nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction.

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