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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Submitted by Neal Lofthouse

The Tales of Hoffmann
Picturegoer October 14th 1950

"Picturegoer" tracks into Shepperton Studios to shoot an
on-the-set account of the biggest film experiment since "The Red Shoes"

     Heartened by the sucess of 'The Red Shoes', those two enterprising individualists, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, went looking for new bounds to break and new horizons to conquer.

     They chose for their latest campaign a screen version of Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann," the opera.

     Their choice is a piece of concentrated fantasy, a fairy tale for adults, a parable, perhaps, of warring forces of good and evil, with a magician as the villain of the piece and the theft of a man's relection through the wiles of a beautiful siren as its dramatic highlight. Well !

     Obviously, 'The Tales of Hoffmann' has presented a challenge to their ingenuity and imagination such as Powell and Pressburger revel in accepting.

     They have tackled the challenge boldly - that much you can see from Jarche's striking pictures on these pages. [Sadly not available] An opera singer, Robert Rounseville, plays the leading man. Ballet dancers Moira Shearer and Ludmilla Tchérina are the principal women in the cast: Robert Helpmann is the magician.

     Sir Thomas Beecham worked out a musical scenario and the entire score and musical effects were recorded before any of the performers went into the studio.

     Then the picture started with the dancers lip-synchronizing to the pre-recodred music.

     The result of this subtle blend of music, ballet and imaginative, dream-like settings is something that most picturegoers will await with eagerness.

Duncan Blair

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