Film snippets, pt. 2

by Nandia Foteini Vlachou



From yesterday’s glorious black and white to today’s delirious technicolor. Dizzying levels of narrative complexity, and bizarre excesses of artificial decor and saturated color characterize the Michael Powell – Emeric Pressburger masterpiece The Tales of Hoffmann (1951). It is unlike any other film – and, possibly, unlike the medium itself. An opera/ballet within a ballet within an opera within a film (and that’s not counting the puppet scenes within the opera/ballet), it has rightly been called hallucinatory. Its famous admirers include Martin Scorsese (who offers the audio commentary in the Criterion edition) and George Romero – but I suspect Christopher Nolan must be green with envy over this. There is a scene involving eyes, mirrors and illusions, that should be right up his alley. And as if the film itself wasn’t enough, the end credits include a surreal “meeting” between the opera singer and the ballet dancer that jointly interpret each character. Delicious!

[watched on February 12, 2016, at the Cinemateca Portuguesa]