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 : Nostalghia.com
Date : Thu, 20 Mar 2003 11:29:48 +0100 (CET)
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
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
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