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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

The Tale of Giulietta

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Watching Powell and Pressburger’s The Tales of Hoffmann (1951) again at the weekend it occurred to me that the second act, The Tale of Giulietta, is the closest British cinema gets to the extravagant weirdness of Fellini Satyricon. Or it was until Velvet Goldmine… Lavish costumes and artificial decor, feasts, orgies, lust, betrayal, sorcery, a duel…it’s all there, even a spot of androgyny if you count Pamela Brown’s role as Nicklaus.

• Ludmilla Tchérina as Giulietta
• Robert Helpmann as Dapertutto
• Robert Rounseville as Hoffmann
• Léonide Massine as Schlemil
• Pamela Brown as Nicklaus

If this is on YouTube I don’t want to know. Do the artists a favour, watch their work on DVD.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes

 


 

Posted in {design}, {fantasy}, {film}, {music}.

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10 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Thombeau

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    Why have I never seen this before? That must be remedied immediately! Thanks, John, for bringing this up.

  2. #2 posted by John

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    You’re welcome! The whole film is great but this is the high point for me, I never tire of it.

  3. #3 posted by Gabriel McCann

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    Looks like Gilliam copped some ideas from this for Imaginarium especially the boat and steps shot.
    2 pics below that reminds me of that film with some of Dante’s Inferno in it with Spencer Tracy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante's_Inferno_(1935_film)
    Isn’t this a nice picture from it
    http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/images/column/41509/dantes-inferno.jpg

  4. #4 posted by adrian

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    you guys got greenaway, prosperos books and baby of macon are pretty satyriconish

  5. #5 posted by John

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    Gabriel: I wrote a post about Harry Lachman’s film last year. Powell may have been deliberately quoting that since he knew Lachman in the 1920s when they both worked for Rex Ingram, and he mentions Lachman’s Inferno in his autobiography.

    Adrian: Prospero’s Books is one of the few Greenaways I actually like. I won’t go into what I dislike about the others. Oddly enough Michael Powell tried to get a film of The Tempest made for years but things never worked out. If he’d managed it in the 1950s it would have looked a lot like this.

  6. #6 posted by Thombeau

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    Okay, I just watched this and am glad I did. Wow! A visual feast, to say the least. Thanks again for the recommendation!

  7. #7 posted by Gabriel McCann

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    I haven’t seen this yet.
    Shame that the Criterion collection DVD is out of print
    http://www.criterion.com/films/748-the-tales-of-hoffmann
    The cracked mirror image is also used by Gilliam in Imaginarium.
    Sorry I must have missed your Lachman post

  8. #8 posted by John

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    The cracked mirror occurs also in The Red Shoes when Anton Walbrook attacks his reflection in fury. I think in that film Powell was deliberately quoting the cracked mirror from the 1935 Student von Prag which starred Walbrook and features the same soul-stealing theme which is in found later in the Tale of Giulietta. Many familiar fantasy themes go back to ETA Hoffmann’s stories and many early German films are based on them.

  9. #9 posted by Gabriel McCann

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    And of course Gilliam did a bit of overkill on the cracked mirror in Brothers Grimm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-eqtPH4mLs

  10. #10 posted by pe-jota

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    Something to discover, I do not know how, but I’ll try to see it.

 




 

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