The following correspondence is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author. It has been edited slightly for brevity.

From   : Michael Lellouche, Paris
To     : 
Date   : Thu, 20 Mar 2003 11:29:48 +0100 (CET)
Subject: Hoffmanniana

Yesterday I attended the stage adaptation of "Hoffmaniana"  in  Paris.
Well,  I  must confess that it wasn't as exciting as I had expected it
would be.  Of  course,  the  idea  of  putting  on  stage  Tarkovsky's
never-filmed  screenplay  was  kind  of interesting, even though quite
odd.  I never read the screenplay, and I strived against my will to do
so  before  watching  the play.  That way I could stay in a "virginal"
state of mind, without prejudice, and I could thereby try to grasp the
stageplay for what it is, and not compare it to the original Tarkovsky

But, I  couldn't  help  being  disappointed.   [...]  As  far  as  I'm
concerned,  I found quite disturbing the formal link to Tarkovsky that
Dietrich Sagert chose to propose to the audience  in  his  adaptation.
All  the  stage  elements  and the stage direction were targeted to be
direct Tarkovsky references. There are references to "Mirror"  (author
lying   on  a  bed  and  speaking),  "Nostalghia"  (glasses  displayed
everywhere on  the  stage,  the  actor  filling  them  and  drinking),
"Stalker"  (he attaches  bits  of  fabric  to  bolts and throws them),
"Andrei Rublev" (throws sand on a large white panel),  "Sacrifice"  (a
house miniature replica sets on fire on stage), and a screen shows the
images of balloons (like the one shown in newsreels in "Mirror").

All these direct quotes from Tarkovsky films, and the  addition  of  a
part  to  Hoffmann's  monologue wherein he announces the titles of his
tales  along  with the titles of Tarkovsky films, were annoying to me.
These were not subtle hints, but rather heavily underlined references.
I was attending the  play  with  a  friend  who  isn't  familiar  with
Tarkovsky's  films.   He  didn't catch the references and thought some
were too odd and impossible to understand (the thrown bolts), and some
were  quite poetic.  But the general feeling was quite boring, I'm sad
to say.  Again, to me the references were  plain  annoying.   Because:
although Tarkovsky  had  some  recurring themes, he would never "quote
himself"  and  not recycle  the exact same  visions he  had used years  
prior.  His  way  of  injecting  himself into a story was tasteful and 
subtle, subtle as a mist - not pretentious, not  as  obvious  and loud
as a thunderbolt strike.

To me, the play fails because of exactly that:  it  is  a  tribute  to
Tarkovsky  (and  more  generally  to creators such as Hoffmann and the
Romantics), while Tarkovsky of  course  intended  a  screenplay  about
Hoffmann (and more generally on creators such as the Romantics...).

The only actor is Claude Guyonnet, who is very  good  and  captivating,
rambling  on stage like a ghost...

Leaving the theatre, my friend  who  didn't  know  much  of  Tarkovsky
didn't  understand most of what the play was about, and being myself a
true admirer of Tarkovsky's  work,  I  didn't  really  find  any  real
interest  or  value  in  this  confused play, which looked more like a
Tarkovsky "parody exercise," than anything else, really.  Of course, I
felt  the true admiration of Tarkovsky that Sagert surely has, but the
tribute could have  been  done  through  an  original  play,  perhaps,
instead  of  mixing  it  with a screenplay that didn't originally bear
this intention?

I hope this isn't too long or confused too,  and  that  you'll  get  a
chance to watch  the play and make up your own mind.  In the next days
I will read Tarkovsky's screenplay and find out what I think about the 
original script.



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