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Under the authoritarian rule of charismatic ballet impressario Boris Lermontov, his proteges realize the full promise of their talents, but at a price: utter devotion to their art and complete loyalty to Lermontov himself. Under his near-obsessive guidance, young ballerina Victoria Page is poised for superstardom, but earns Lermontov's scorn when she falls in love with Julian Craster, composer of "The Red Shoes," the ballet Lermontov is staging to showcase her talents. Vicky leaves the company and marries Craster, but still finds herself torn between Lermontov's demands and those of her heart. Written by
Paul Penna <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There is a frequent complaint that comes up by viewers as to why, in the final sequence, Vicky is wearing the red ballet shoes *backstage* when the story and ballet opens with her in a different pair of shoes. Vicky's dresser is clearly seen carrying the white/pale pink shoes that she wears in the beginning and is ready to give them to Vicky to change into, when she has her final 'impulse' to run out to the balcony. (She was probably just checking, or breaking in, the shoes in the first place, but the symbolism of the red shoes controlling her life wouldn't translate if she wasn't seen wearing them.) In his autobiography, Michael Powell recalled that Emeric Pressburger complained about this discrepancy while they were writing the screenplay. Powell recalled, "I was a director, a storyteller, and I knew that she must. I didn't try to explain it. I just did it." See more »
Just before Julian Craster begins to play the piano for the first time for Lermontov, the shadow of a boom mic can be scene moving into position, projected against the wall behind him. See more »
[holding doors closed]
They're going mad, sir. It's the students.
Down with tyrants!
Manager, Covent Garden:
All right, let them in.
See more »
I am biased because I have loved this film ever since I was four years old. Some films, as you grow and age, lose their magic and you forget what made you love it as a child. This film has only strengthened my love and appreciation of it as I have grown older. I am not one to narrate a storyline, as this film is great for more than, and even despite, it's story.
The beautiful colour photography of the locations, including London, Paris and Monte Carlo, will take you back to a fictional glamorous 1940's where everyone wore chic clothes and were perfectly mannered and groomed and make you wish you could visit there sometime.
The music is a highlight for me. Brian Easdale has written such a detailed and nuanced lyrical score that does not overpower any moment in the film. There are moments where the music so perfectly conveys a character's very thought, even though they are not saying a word and their face betrays not a hint of emotion.
The story is a familiar one, particularly today, of ambition and the balance between career and personal life, between a creative passion and a human one. And of course, yes there is the ballet element. I have no interest in ballet and I love the film. It does play up the prima ballerinas and haughty choreographer stereotypes, but as they are played by real ballet dancers, I think it makes it all the funnier. Robert Helpmann and Leonide Massine are particularly hilarious and over the top, so full of pathos and themselves.
Anton Walbrook is the star of this film, playing a Diaghilev type character and absolutely dominates any scene he is in. He is not bombastic in a showy, hammy way. It is a more silent but deadly charismatic performance. It is a pity he did not receive an award for it. He is stern, uncompromising, cold and passionate and absolutely deadly. He is a gentleman tough guy.
Moira Shearer and Marius Goring, unfortunately do not fare so well in comparison, but they are perfectly adequate in their roles and have some touching and funny moments. It is not altogether their fault, the characters are a little bland, especially in comparison to all the other larger than life characters they are paired with. Shearer really comes good as soon as she starts dancing.
Which brings me to the fifteen minute ballet in the middle of the film. It is beautiful (and brief). The dancing is fabulous, it looks beautiful and the music is amazing. No one should fast forward this masterpiece of filmed ballet. It is cinematic, not (as filmed ballet usually is) procenium stage bound. It is a modern ballet, choreographed by Robert Helpmann and Leonide Massine and is a story, perhaps even a mirror, within and of the film.
The Red Shoes combines every one of it's elements into a perfect whole. Some elements are a bit lacking, the story is very simple and given another context a bit soap opera like, but combined with the visuals, the music, the characters and the human comedy-tragedy, it is a beautiful complete film and one that will keep improving with age.
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