The Red Shoes
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Red Shoes can be found here.

Ballerina Victoria 'Vicky' Page (Moira Shearer) is torn between devoting herself to her art and her impressario Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) or to following her heart when she falls in love with composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring), who is currently writing a ballet based on Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale about 'The Red Shoes'.

The Red Shoes is based on a fairy tale of the same name by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen [1805-1875]. It was first published in Copenhagen on 7 April 1845 in Nye Eventyr. Frste Bind. Tredie Samling (New Fairy Tales. First Volume. Third Collection). The tale was adapted for the screen by screen-writers and directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, a British team of film-makers known collectively as The Archers, with additional dialogue by Keith Winter. Based on the Archers' production, The Red Shoes was also made into a short-lived 1993 Broadway production with lyrics by Marsha Norman and Bob Merrill (credited as Paul Stryker), music by Jule Styne, and an accompanying book, also by Marsha Norman.

Yes. You can read The Red Shoes online in the English translation here. You can also read The Red Shoes online in its original Swedish text here.

Vicky thought that she had been invited for dinner, since Boris had previously sent her a note that said: I hope you are free this evening. My car will call for you at eight.

Yes. Shearer was herself a ballerina, professionally trained by the great Russian teacher Nicholas Legat. She had been dancing since 1942 with the Royal Ballet at Sadler's Wells in London when she was asked to star in The Red Shoes. She continued to dance professionally until 1952 with Sadler's Wells, where she was second only to Margot Fonteyn and eventually became their principal dancer.

Yes. Irina Boronskaja was played by the French prima ballerina Ludmilla Tchérina. Léonide Massine (Grigory Ljubov) was born in Moscow and became the principal dancer in the Ballets Russes when he replaced world-renowned Vaslav Nijinsky in 1921. Australian Robert Helpmann (Ivan Boleslawsky) was the principal dancer at Sadler's Wells from 1933 to 1950. Amazing, isn't it, how much talent was brought together for this movie production!

Notwithstanding the ability of cinematography to enhance colors, Moira Shearer's hair was indeed naturally red. In fact, she was known for her red hair and even starred in The Man Who Loved Redheads (1955), a movie that featured it.

That's a hard call to make because there are so many different types of love. Some viewers feel that his crestfallen face when he learns about Vicky and Julian Craster (Marius Goring), the act of smashing his fist into the mirror, etc. are evidence of Lermontov's repressed romantic feelings towards Vicky. Evidence in favor of the idea: Lermontov arranges for a table for two on the evening of Grischa's Birthday Party. He is planning on finally making a move on Vicky. Unfortunately that happens to be the evening when he learns that she and Julian are in love. Also, when asked why he dismissed Julian, he says, "he interfered with some of my plans" meaning he had hoped to become romantically involved with Vicki himself. Both the scenes of Vicky and Julian together as lovers, in the cart and at home after their marriage end with images of Boris brooding, which works with the idea that he is torturing himself by brooding over the details of their romance. Further evidence can be seen in Walbrook's performance in his scenes with Moira Shearer, especially their final scene which is charged with sexual longing and desire barely held in check. Others feel that Lermontov had but one love -- the Ballet Lermontov -- and he believed that, in order for Vicky to become an accomplished dancer, she had to forgo any romantic entanglements that would serve as distractions. Most likely, his true feelings lay somewhere between those two, such that he "loved" Vicky as his creation and feared that she could never reach her heights unless she made dancing her sole master. He had previously said (of Irina) "A dancer who relies upon the doubtful comforts of human love can never be a great dancer. Never."

What you are seeing in the ballet isn't what the audience in the theater would see. You are seeing how Vicky imagines the story. For example, when Craster and Lermontov suddenly appear on the stage, this shows the conflict brewing in Vicky's mind as the two men beckon her to follow them in diametrically-opposed directions, giving credence to Lermontov's belief that Vicky would be distracted onstage if she tried to serve two masters.

When Vicky suddenly quits right in the middle of their season, Lermontov needs someone (and quickly) to take over her roles. There were many female dancers in his company, of course, but he needed a principal female who could dance leading roles and had "star" quality. Irina fit the bill. There is also the possibility that, by taking back Irina even though she was married, Lermontov hoped to send the message to Vicky that he would accept her return, too.

Lermontov has a change of heart and asks Vicky to return to the troupe and dance 'The Red Shoes.' Vicky consents, since Julian is currently in Covent Garden (London) conducting his new opera. On opening night, however, Julian shows up and tells Vicky that she must either come away with him right then and there or lose him forever, a move that Vicky knows will mean the end of her dancing career. When Vicky cannot make up her mind, Julian kisses her forehead and walks out the door. As Vicky is being led down the corridor to change from the red shoes into her peach ones, her feet begin to move backwards. Suddenly, she starts running towards the terrace, where she sees Julian's train approaching. They see each other and wave. Without any apparent hesitation, Vicky leaps over the balcony rail and lands right in front of the approaching train. Back on the stage, just as the orchestra finishes playing the opening overture, Lermontov comes out and announces tearfully that Vicky Page will not be able to dance tonight nor any other night. The ballet will still go on, he says, but without Vicky. Out on the train platform, Vicky is shown lying on a stretcher, bruised and bloodied, Julian at her side. A doctor says, 'Pas d'espoir' ('no hope'), and Vicky asks Julian to take the red shoes off her feet, which he does. Onstage, the ballet ends.

In the ballet, the red shoes don't appear on Vicky's feet until they are given to her by the shoemaker. However, Vicky needs to break in a new pair of red slippers prior to her second performance. Just before she's about to go onstage, her maid can be seen bringing her the regular peach-colored slippers that she is supposed to wear in the opening scenes. Unfortunately, she doesn't get to change into them in time.

Some viewers interpret this as intentional suicide on Vicky's part, others see it as an accidental fall when she tries to call out to Julian, and still others maintain that it was the red shoes that made her keep dancing...right off the terrace.

A case can be made for all three. In keeping with the endings of both Andersen's fairy tale and Lermontov's ballet, the wearer of the red shoes must literally die because of the power they hold over the dancer, making her dance and dance until death is the only way out. Figuratively, however, Vicky was being forced to decide between one of two paths...either to become a great ballerina or to become a wife to the man she loves. Since neither man -- Julian or Lermontov -- would have it any way but their own way, they were quite probably instrumental in causing her such stress and confusion that it ultimately destroyed her.

Vicky is alive when we last see her, but Lermontov's tearful address to the audience and the doctor's pronouncement that there is no hope implies that she will die from her injuries. In Marsha Norman's novelization of the story (written to accompany her short-lived 1993 Broadway production), Vicky does die.

Kate Bush's song and album "The Red Shoes" was inspired by the film. The music was subsequently used in The Line, the Cross & the Curve (1993), a film written, directed, and starring Kate Bush.

Mikhail Lermontov, Russian novelist, is the source of the character's name.


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