Repertory Picks

Powell and Pressburger in Wisconsin

This week, The University of Wisconsin–Madison Cinematheque will present a special screening of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s dazzling 1951 film The Tales of Hoffmann, adapted from French composer Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 opera of the same name. The event will be copresented with Madison Opera, whose stage production of the fantastical story is also slated for April. Starring Robert Rounseville, Moira Shearer, Ludmilla Tchérina, Robert Helpmann, and Léonide Massine, this beautiful Technicolor reimagining of Offenbach’s opera—which is itself based on three tales by the nineteenth-century German writer E. T. A. Hoffmann—centers on a poet’s reveries about three women from his past. Powell and Pressburger’s passion-filled film brings the story to life to an exhilarating mix of lavish production design, glorious music, and exquisite choreography. You can see the film this Saturday night in Madison, and in the meantime, read Andrew Moor’s 2005 essay on the work of Academy Award–winning costume designer and art director Hein Heckroth, who also lent his incomparable talents to this marvelous film.

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