Offenbach's last opera, based on eerie stories by the master of the supernatural tale, E.T.A. Hoffmann, who is featured as the hapless poet, eternally deceived in love - first by the inventor of a mechanical doll with whom he falls in love; then by a Venetian courtesan and her protector; and finally by a dying singer under the influence of the sinister Dr. Miracle.
There was a programme on American television in the fifties called Million Dollar Movie which would show the same film twice on weekday evenings and three times on Saturday and Sunday. This was where I first saw The Tales of Hoffmann: cut, with commercials and in black and white. I was transfixed by the music and camera movements, and by the theatrical gestures of the actors. When we were doing Taxi Driver and the close-ups of De Niro's face, I shot these faster than usual, at 36 and 49 frames per second, still under the influence of Robert Helpmann's reaction shots during the duel on the gondola. I had watched the film so often on television that it became an assault on everyone living in our small appartment.
Martin Scorsese (Foreword of Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger: Arrows of Desire)