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The Red Shoes

A movie directed by Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell

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Love. Obsession. A choice. BALLET.

  • Apr 16, 2011
**** out of ****

"The Red Shoes" means serious business. It's the first- and presumably best- film to depict the back-stage life of an obsessive dancer. We'd expect it to be pretty hypnotic, with its honorable Criterion Collection restoration courtesy of Martin Scorsese, as well as all the other praise it has garnered over the years. This film is the favorite of many; and for good reason. It is one of the many-but few- classics that have not decayed with age, and I don't think it ever will. It's a seductive experience, dealing with the horrific, the psychological, the beautiful, the masterful, and the unforgettable. It captures you; but only if you possess the necessarily skills to do the same in return.

Here is a film waiting to be seen, so why not see it? I think it's a masterpiece, and so do many people. There will no doubt me those who rebel against this film's original complexity, but honestly, I say ignore them. You should not be compelled to miss out on a good movie, so why miss out on a great one?

The spotlight is on the heroine, Vicky Page. She has been a dancer for quite some time; but has never quite gotten the break she has wanted to get for so long. She meets a Ballet impresario Boris Lermontov, who is surprised by Vicky's dedication to dancing, and agrees to take her in as a student, therefore. He promises to bring out the best in Vicky, as a dancer.

But alas, he ends up bringing out the worst. Victoria is chosen to dance in the "Ballet of the Red Shoes"; which is a ballet inspired by "The Red Shoes" by Hans Christian Anderson. We witness Vicky rise to fame through her dedication and charm, and then we see her go way back down-hill whilst falling in love with the composer of the ballet.

Vicky is torn between two choices; the ballet, or the love of its composer. She is, as I've said several times now, a dedicated dancer. She is compelled to dance, and she loves it. But it drives her off her rocker, and we are treated to a truly unforgettable cinematic experience, which ranges from brilliance in the areas of narrative and acting to the seldom-touched areas of visuals, music, and atmosphere.

Did I say visuals? Why yes, I believe I did. One of the many memorable scenes from this film is the ballet scene; which is as haunting as it is beautiful. The visuals which are delivered through this sequence are insane, and the ballet takes us through scenes of heaven, hell, and whatever else can be explored.

Moira Shearer would be, what we would call, the "classic crazy ballet dancer", aside from the fact that this simply is not a term; and I don't imagine it ever will be. And she's not even crazy; just tortured psychologically. Shearer's performance makes us connect and believe in what the dancer is going through, and this film remains, to this day, a powerful piece of work. I won't say that it cannot be replicated, and I will not say that it cannot be remade in another body (erm...film), but I will say this: there are few films out there like this one. It's one-of-a-kind. It depicts madness with a touch of dread around every corner. I do not only admire it; I absorbed it, and therefore, was able to love it like hell.

This is art; this is entertainment; and lastly, this is "The Red Shoes". It's a heck of a recommendation from my end of the table, as I find it deep, masterful, and compelling. It's a sure highlight of the combined careers of directorial duo Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and it's just a damn fine film in general. There is a part of me that feels as if these sorts of classics cannot be properly reviewed, but what the hell: I'm doing it anyway. I have seen this film multiple times, because it demanded such a thing, and I'm proud to say that I felt what I wanted to feel, while watching this movie. Any cinephile should see this, as it has influenced a semi-large portion of world cinema. And anyone who's not a cinephile may want to see it too, just for the experience that it offers up. A masterpiece both visually and dramatically, I give "The Red Shoes" my full recommendation. The red shoes still dance with wild, disturbingly ominous passion to this day.

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April 17, 2011
I saw this many years ago and I think I need to refresh my memory of it. Amazing film!
More The Red Shoes reviews
review by . August 04, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
THE RED SHOES is a classic of film-making. With a highly dramatic plot and an unforgettable score, it truly is a masterpiece.Into the famous Lermontov Company comes young Victoria Page (Moira Shearer). A ballerina eager to master her craft. Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) is already aware of Vicky's talents, and soon Vicky is one of the principal artists in the company.However, Vicky finds herself attracted to the young composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring), whom Lermontov has patronised. Soon …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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It's been said that this 1948 classic has been responsible for the ballet lessons of more young girls than any other film. It's not hard to understand why: Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger's dark fairy tale presents the ballet as an exquisite, magical work of art; but under the theatrics and glory is an all-consuming lifestyle with the power to destroy those who love it perhaps too much. Moira Shearer practically glows as Victoria "Vicky" Page, a young woman consumed by a will to dance who is accepted into the highly prestigious ballet company run by perfectionist Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook). Meanwhile, a gifted young composer, Julian Craster (Marius Goring), is brought on board as an orchestra coach, and later conductor and composer of the ballet that will make Vicky's name:The Red Shoes, one of the most beautiful and dramatic dances ever captured on film. Professional and personal jealousies soon pull this creative team apart, however, and Vicky is torn between her love of Julian, her responsibility to Boris, and her need to dance. Powell and Pressburger recast Hans Christian Andersen's sad story as a modern romantic melodrama, highlighted by beautiful dances and shot, not as stage ballets, but rather as expressionist cinematic dramas on impossibly grand sets awash with bold color and beautifully captured in glorious Technicolor by cinematographer Jack Cardiff. It's a brilliant melding of dance and drama as Vicky's real life mirror's the tragic story she danced ...
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