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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 <email@example.com>
Anton Walbrook's character of Lermontov was generally thought to be based on ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the man behind Vaslav Nijinsky. In 1913, after learning that Nijinsky had married his prima ballerina, Romola de Pulszky, Diaghilev fired them both from the Ballet Russes. In the film, Lermentov's constant firing of dancers who fall in love is a parallel of this. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, however, were more inclined to say that Lermentov was a representation of their first main mentor, Alexander Korda. See more »
The length of Julian's cigarette changes dramatically (gets longer and then gets much shorter than he could smoke it down to in the short time between shots) while he's playing the piano for Vicky in Lermontov's office. 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.
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We saw this film years ago. It was a surprise when it was included as part of a Michael Powell's work at the Walter Reade recently. The film still has a great look as it seems it has been lovingly restored. Mr. Powell, working with his usual collaborator, Emeric Pressburger, created a film about the world of ballet that has proved to be, not only a timeless classic, but a crowd pleaser to those who watch it for the first time.
"The Red Shoes" is basically a fairy tale loosely based on a Hans Christian Andersen story. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Pressburger gave it a vivid look that even today, appears fresh and glamorous. Those glorious colors in the film stays in the mind of the viewer forever.
The ballets shown are magnificently staged. The Red Shoes ballet by Sir Robert Helpmann and The Shoemaker by Leonide Massine, a giant in the world of ballet. The music conducted flawlessly by Sir Thomas Beecham lingers in one's mind long after the movie is over. The glorious Technicolor cinematography by Jack Cardiff is amazing.
The acting by Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring and Moira Shearer serves the story well, although the director got better performances in later films, "Peeping Tom" and "Black Narcisus", to name two. Ms. Shearer with her red hair and peaches and cream skin projects such a refined presence in the film that is hard to forget her features. The actress dressed by Jacques Fath, the famous French designer, shows why she was one of the best things that happened to the picture.
"The Red Shoes" is one of the best films about ballet thanks to the vision of its directors.
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