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.
During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
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>
A great film speaks to each of us in a different way. To me this more than a colourful piece of escapist entertainment, this was a glimpse into a world of magnificent color, sumptious settings, French Haute Couture, the theatre, music, luxury hotels, elegant opera houses, chaffeured Rolls Royce cars, travel to the South of France - in short, everything that a child in the near bankrupt England in 1948 had never seen and could barely imagine.
I was fascinated not only by the glimpse of an elitist life, but of the time capsule which the film presented of a time and place that no longer exists as it was at that time. The views of London in 1948, are similar to watching "World War II in Color" on the history channel. When the ballet company travelled, they took the train. Rationing may still have existed back then, and travellers could not take money out of the country, except for a ridiculously inadequate amount; therefore, if you went abroad you had to know someone with whom you could stay. I also found myself wondering how they got the money to make a technicolour film in 1947, when they began filming.
Part of the film takes place in Monte Carlo, only 20 years after the heyday of the famous Ballet Russe. In fact the ballet company in the film is quite obviously based on the Diaghilev Company. Former member Leonid Massine has a major part in the film, and Marie Rambert has a cameo role.
This is also a ballet film for those who do not really care for ballet. The plot is simple - rising young ballerina falls in love with rising young composer and must choose between him and a career possessively controlled by the impressario - and acts as a frame for the ballet. The film is as near perfection as it is possible to get, and watching it in 2004, it does not seem to have dated at all. Everyone, especially Anton Walbrook, is perfectly cast. The script is witty and occasionally humorous. The technicolour photography is superb, especially capturing Moira Shearer's flaming red hair.
The audio commentary on the DVD adds immensely to the enjoyment of the film, which is one that can be watched over and over. o understand how great this film really is, try watching Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" travesty afterwards.
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