The Sandman, a film by Paul Berry


Nothing to do with Neil Gaiman’s Goth dream-master, and not a film for children despite appearances, Paul Berry’s short animation, The Sandman (1991), is based on Der Sandmann by ETA Hoffmann. The less said about its content, the better; watch it to the end. Paul Berry later worked as a puppet animator on feature films including The Nightmare Before Christmas. I didn’t know—and was dismayed to discover—that he died in 2001 at the age of 40.

Franz Stassen’s illustrated Hoffmann


Endpaper design with an ex libris plate by the artist.

Another prolific illustrator with a clear-line style, Franz Stassen (1869–1949) here decorates the pages of Musikalische Schriften, a book devoted to the musical works of writer ETA Hoffmann. I haven’t checked but I’m fairly sure that Stassen was featured in Jugend magazine a few times, his florid style in this undated volume would certainly complement the work of the other artists there. Like some of those artists, Stassen was enthused by Teutonic nationalism during the First World War, a path that led eventually to work for, and plaudits, from the Nazis. We’re also told (via an unsourced Wikipedia detail) that he ended his days in a gay relationship, something the Third Reich would have either overlooked or conveniently ignored.



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The art of Mario Laboccetta


Tales of Hoffmann (1932).

Another great illustrator about whom information is scant; I need better reference books, the web is often no use at all. Monsieur Thombeau posted the cover to Laboccetta’s edition of Les Fleurs du Mal (below) which had me looking around for other work by the artist. VTS has pages from a 1932 edition of Tales of Hoffmann while more of the Baudelaire pictures can be found on various bookdealers’ sites. As to the artist, we’re told he was an Italian living in Paris, and this French site has a small list of his illustrated editions. It’s frustrating to see that Les Paradis Artificiels is among these; what did he make of Baudelaire’s opium visions?


Tales of Hoffmann (1932).


Tales of Hoffmann (1932).

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The Tale of Giulietta


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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