RED SHOES, THE
An ambitious young ballerina Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) joins a world-famous ballet company run by Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook), a tyrannical artistic director. Lermontov gives young composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring) a chance to write a new ballet based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Red Shoes, and gives Vicky the lead role to launch her career. But when Vicky and Julian fall in love and marry, Lermontov fires Julian for disloyalty; nothing can interfere with dance, not even true love. Vicky is faced with a terrible choice between the man she loves and dancing - which is her lifeblood.
Review by Louise Keller:
The timeless appeal of a beautiful ballerina torn between ambition and love makes engrossing viewing in the meticulously remastered 1948 classic - The Red Shoes. Drama, romance, ballet, music and fantasy all intertwine as life imitates art and the symbolic red shoes that cannot stop dancing, mirror the compulsion of Moira Shearer's ambitious ballerina Victoria Page. In her first film role, the striking redhead brings vulnerability and grace as she fearlessly climbs the artistic ladder but finds an unexpected view from the top. Based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, the story has an underlying darkness as the complications of love elicit the true colours of her controlling Svengali.
Much of the film is set in Monte Carlo, where we drool at the hypnotic blue of the Mediterranean and iconic landmarks like the famed Hotel de Paris. But the film's pulse lies in the theatre as Shearer's Vicky takes centre stage in her starring role in the ballet of The Red Shoes. The ballet sequences are magnificent, none more memorable than when Vicky's fantasies come alive as she performs on stage. Shearer and Robert Helpmann (who choreographed the whole ballet) dance together with such anticipation, grace and spontaneity that their two bodies simply meld together as one.
All the performances are wonderful. Marius Goring is charismatic as Julian Craster, the passionate composer who steals Vicky's heart, while Anton Walbrook creates a formidable Boris Lermontov, who controls his ballerina as surely as Julian conducts his orchestra. It has been a long time since I first saw The Red Shoes and there has never been a better time than now to enjoy the many things the film has to offer.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Lovingly and beautifully restored, The Red Shoes returns to cinemas briefly - but enough to give audiences who love it to see it on the big screen, and cinema lovers who have yet to see it to add it to their treasured movie experiences. (It was shot in 1.37:1 aspect ratio so it won't be too cramped on a decent home entertainment system when available on DVD.)
With over 200 reels of film and sound elements, including the original three strip Technicolor camera negatives, legendary Academy award winning filmmaker and founder of The Film Foundation, Martin Scorsese, Academy award winning editor and widow of Michael Powell, Thelma Schoonmaker Powell, and The UCLA Film and Television Archive worked on the restoration of The Red Shoes for over two-and-a-half years.
The trouble and effort was well worth it. It looks and sounds superb - not to mention that the film stands the test of time as a true classic. The screenplay by Emeric Pressburger not only makes use of the fairy tale as the inspiration for the ballet, but mirrors it as a real life extension of the power of compulsion to dance - at any and all costs. The story is set within Lermontov's (Anton Walbrook) successful ballet company, marvellously realised by the collaborating team of Michael Powell and Pressburger (The Archers).
The relationships between the principal characters are drawn with graceful, powerful strokes and the central story grows so organically and subtly that it takes us by surprise. But the directors had the good taste to cast the film with superb actors: glamorous redhead Moira Shearer is brilliant both as dancer and actress, and Anton Walbrook creates a complex and credible character in Lermontov, whose singular focus is so intense as to burn those who fail his standards. He is neither glorified nor ridiculed; he is presented as a flawed, driven and principled man whose price for artistic success is the loss of romance.
Leonid Massine as Ljubov the choreographer and Robert Helpmann (the film's real choreographer) as Ivan Boleslawski provide terrific support, as does the charismatic Eric Berry as Dimitri the veteran designer. The film reminds us of where great cinema comes from.
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RED SHOES, THE (G)
CAST: Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Robert Helpmann, Leonid Massine, Eric Berry, Irene Brown, Ludmilla Tcherina
PRODUCER: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
DIRECTOR: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
SCRIPT: Emeric Pressburger (fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jack Cardiff
EDITOR: Reginald Mills
MUSIC: Brian Easdale
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Hein Heckroth
OTHER: Robert Helpmann (choreographer)
RUNNING TIME: 133 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Chapel
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney (Chauvel): March 18: Melbourne (Astor): March 21, 2010 (restored print, re-release)