The Red Shoes (1948)

UK ITV Studios Home Entertainment Blu-ray edition

Text below written 2018-10-18



An amazing fairy-tale melodrama in glowing technicolor fom hailed film creator duo Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger with red-haired
beauty Moira Shearer as the aspiring ballerina Vicky. Boris Lermontov (played by Anton Walbrook) the ballet-troupe boss about the ballet:

"The Ballet of the Red Shoes is from a fairy-tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It's the story of a girl who is devoured by ambition to attend
a dance in a pair of red shoes"

This film is really an artmovie in all respects as it's about a group of people who are "artists" at a ballet, the omnipotent leader Boris, Julian,
the composer and conductor of the orchestra and the dancers, among them Vicky who dreams of being a famous prima ballerina.
Victoria Page is the niece of a rich patron of the arts and a ballet dancer, at a high society party she's invited to an audition by Boris Lermontov
and she takes the chance and gets hired. When the prima ballerina Irina (Ludmilla Tcherina) marries and leaves the company Vicky is the no.1.

She's soon about to make her grand debut in The ballet of the Red Shoes and it's a grand success, for Vicky who becomes a star, for Boris
Lermontov's troupe and for the composer of the music, Julius Craster (Marius Goring).
She gets to tour all over Europe and perform all the famous ballets on the repertoire, as Swan Lake and Respighi's La Boutique Fantasque.
Everything goes well for Boris and his protegé Victoria .... until she marries Julius and leaves the company, becomes a housewife in London
with Julius preoccupied with composing his debut opera for the Covent Garden.

The Swedish DVD release


Boris is furious, as he wants Vicky for himself, not so much for romantical reasons but for his future ballet projects.
He knows her and her ambitions and when they meet again in Monaco he lures into returning to the company
and to yet again perform The Red Shoes.

........................................ SPOILER ALERT ...................................................

........................................ SPOILER ALERT ...................................................


Julian shows up and demands that she has to choose between him or her career (well, well, he could cook his own
meals i guess, the oldfashioned misogynistic fucker and not hinder his wife's career) and the film ends in tragedy
and melodrama when the mental strain overtakes her. The Shoes starts living their own life and she dances to her
death, just as the poor girl in the H.C. Andersen fairy-tale in an unforgettable haunting ending.

OK, it feels a bit dated today that Vicky and Julian couldn't have successful careers both of them. That she should've
to stay at home in a scrubby London apartment cooking Fish and Chips to him when he composes his music.
Vicky, hailed by ballet critics all over Europe and fast becoming one of the worlds greatest ballerinas? Disgusting.
So, Julius was a dickhead and Boris was right. He saw what Julius was made of, a man that couldn't accept her career
and her happiness in dancing, the only thing that made her want to live.

Moira Shearer is so beautiful, ethereal, when she dances in her red shoes and the whole famous ballet sequence, 20
minutes or so, when she performs The Red Shoes is visual MAGIC. Anton Walbrook is great also as Lermontov,
and i suppose he's meant to look like someone as Djagilev with his russian ballet who defined the genre in the first
decades of the 1900's.

Me myself i like classical music and ballet music who often feels innovative and exciting, BUT i hate the ridiculous
attires they wear, so if i attended the performance of a ballet i would've to close my eyes and just listen to the music.
Prokofiev, Stravinskij, Copland and Respighi has all composed some of the finest ballet music. Ottorino Respighi
La Boutique Fantasque (The Fantastic Toyshop) and Aaron Copland with Billy The Kid e.g.

The blu-ray is presented in widescreen 1.78:1 ratio and an english audio LPCM or DD mono with english subtitles.
Extras: Profile of the Red Shoes - documentary with (then) still living cinematographerJack Cardiff (24 mins, 2000),
Ballet of the Red Shoes (15 mins), Martin Scorsese intro from Cannes 2009, Thelma Schoonmaker interview (14 mins),
trailer, photo galleries (14 mins), biographies, star profile gallery

 

Back to Cult & Classics page 1