Massine, The Red Shoes, and The Tales of Hoffmann

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
User avatar
Posts: 575
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:16 pm
Location: Southern California

Massine, The Red Shoes, and The Tales of Hoffmann

Unread post by odinthor » Fri Aug 18, 2017 11:26 am

This is basically just to put on record what I haven't run across elsewhere, namely that the great choreographer Leonide Massine, featured in the wonderful films The Red Shoes and The Tales of Hoffmann, seems (to me) to have had much much more to do with the writing and/or conceptualization of the films than he has been given credit for.

I base this on several variously remarkable similarities between his own life and sequences in the films (I've recently been studying two biographies of him--one his autobiography).

--The location of the "Antonia" act in Hoffmann is mysteriously changed from the original Germany to a Mediterranean island which moreover has an amphitheater. Massine's own home was . . . on a Mediterranean island on which he built an amphitheater.

--In The Red Shoes, it's already well known that the character Lermontov is based on Diaghilev, so important to Massine's early life; and the Monte Carlo location in the film grows out of this (London as well, for that matter);

--The details of the firing of Craster are remarkably similar to those of the firing of Massine by Diaghilev;

--Even the absenting of Craster from the premiere of his opera in London is reminiscent of an occasion involving one of Massine's ballets in London in which composer de Falla was to conduct at the premiere of the ballet, but abruptly had to absent himself (for de Falla, it was that his mother was dying, and in Spain; but still...).

I have the feeling that, as I read more details of Massine's experiences, I will find further similarities--some strong, some of the "seems to have vaguely inspired" sort--in these films. Massine was bounteously inventive, and it would have been just like him to have offered endless thoughts and suggestions to the writers/directors as the script was being developed.

Anyhow, just these notes on something to look further into . . .
"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).

Post Reply