After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings.
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 <email@example.com>
A superb production, wonderful colour, but above all, superbly directed.
The performances are terrific (with only the odd unusual line delivery, partly due to english being many of the actors' second language, and partly due to the fact that all of the main dancing characters, are not professional actors at all, but dancers - including Moira Shearer, Australia's Robert Helpmann, Leonida Massine and Ludmilla Tcherina - which fact considering, they do marvellous jobs).
The story's passion for ballet and music comes across to the audience, and the story is compelling and fascinating, due to the way it is told. Moira Shearer, in a career-defining role, has a wonderful presence as the young dancer Victoria Page, who becomes a star of the Lermontov Ballet Company, and dances the lead in the ballet The Red Shoes. But Anton Walbrook is truly terrific as Lemontov. One particular moment i was very impressed with was when he begins to write a letter to Victoria, and there is a closeup of his face, and on his face we can read the emotions of his letter in a very subtle way. A marvellous scene. He has a germanic cold stare in this part which really brings it to life - the character of Lemontov is entirely in his eyes.
The score is fantastic, particularly the original ballet of the red shoes itself, composed for the film by Brian Easdale. The film has such a wonderful look partly due to the fact that its production designer was a painter, Hein Heckroth.
But the element which really makes this movie great is how superbly it is directed. With glorious use of colour, it is directed in a smooth, impeccable style in the manner of Renoir - except here each frame poses not as a painting, but as a moment from a ballet.
A wonderful film to watch.
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