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The Tales of Hoffmann

Posted by martinteller on March 26, 2006

This one is a conundrum.  I was absolutely floored by the eye candy: incredible set design, mouth-watering Technicolor, and a goodie bag full of dazzling technical tricks.  The cinematography rivals Cardiff’s work on Red Shoes in terms of sheer gorgeousness.  And I enjoyed the German influence (not just the expressionism, but the story structure greatly resembles Destiny and Waxworks).  The magic fairy tale nature of the story evokes La Belle et la Bête.  Most of the stuff going on here is astonishing, and part of me desperately wants to love this film.  And yet, I can’t stomach opera.  It irritates me to have people singing their dialogue, it grates on my nerves (which really fucked up Umbrellas of Cherbourg for me), especially with all that showy trilling and soaring.  Even more so in this case, where the libretto was extremely awkward and hard to follow.  Whether that’s Offenbach’s fault or just a clumsy translation, I don’t know, but thank goodness for DVD subtitles… although that’s hardly a comfort when you want your eyes focused on the amazing visuals.  I also find ballet very silly most of the time, which is perhaps a juvenile attitude, but I can’t help it.  Just not my cup of tea, I’m afraid, but I can totally appreciate how someone could become completely enamored with it.  I’d probably give it a 10 if it had been made as a silent.  Rating: 7


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