The Red Shoes

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stenka razin
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The Red Shoes

Post by stenka razin » Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:05 pm

A great and classic back stage drama, The Red Shoes (1948) is the crowning jewel of the Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger collaboration. Set in the world of ballet, it is at once a story of the stage, a love story, and a tragic dissertation on the sacrifices called for by art.
Though it's the story of a ballet company and features an abundance of dance, you don't have to love the ballet to love The Red Shoes. The conflict between the demands of art and love are the heart of the film. The characters make the dances seem all the more important.
The Red Shoes stands up to repeated viewings, perhaps owing to the purity of its fairy tale origins. Written, directed and produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, The Red Shoes is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. The ballet, written for the film, reenacts the story in simple terms, but the film expands the theme with splendid embellishment. Local ballerina Victoria Page joins renowned Ballet Lermontov , is plucked from the chorus by Boris Lermontov, falls in love with new company member composer Julian Craster, and must choose between love and art. It's a rather wonderful conceit, the story of the ballet at the heart of the film and the heart of the film, the ballet. The script glistens with backstage color and is filled out with sumptuous locales. Above all, the larger than life characters create a world set in perfect balance between the proscenium arches.
Fortuitous casting makes The Red Shoes soar beyond the obbligato leaps and pirouettes. The late Moira Shearer, a stunning red-haired beauty, makes her screen debut under the tutelage of Powell and Pressburger, and it's almost as if character and actress are molded at the same time. Shearer's screen innocence may have something to do with her inexperience, but it makes for curtain calls in the role of Victoria Page, ballerina of Ballet Lermontov. The company is modeled after impresario Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, the legendary ballet company that boasted the likes of Nijinsky and Pavlova in its company. Imperious Boris Lermontov is played to perfection by one of my favorite actors, Anton Walbrook. He wears a suit of armor molded from the daily workings of his ballet company, but through the cracks a more complex individual emerges. The speech Lermontov delivers in a stiff, cracked voice to the audience at the final performance of the film's signature ballet is nothing short of haunting. Marius Goring, playing music student and composer Julian Craster, seems a tad worn down, especially against the fresh bloom of Shearer. The rest of the cast combines stars of the ballet in impressive screen turns with seasoned actors of the British screen. Three ballet immortals, Léonide Massine, Robert Helpmann and Ludmilla Tcherina all add a seal of realism to the production.
The Red Shoes does play like stage art. This is the stuff of opera and the production elements support it with grand purpose. The intense, saturated color delivered by Jack Cardiff's Technicolor photography echoes the fervor with which Powell's characters embrace their work. Brilliant reds dominate the palette amplifying the passion to achieve driving these artists . The physical beauty of the production and the wonderful original score and standard ballet music are fused to the plot, making the film work on multiple levels. Set design is wonderful. Beyond the great, theatrical outdoor locales of Paris, Monaco and London, the theaters are dressed in authentic detail. Brian Easdale's score, including the original music for the title ballet, melds seamlessly to the classical ballet standards sprinkled throughout the production.
The Red Shoes is the lovliest movie I have ever seen and I recommend it without reservations. Please make it your business to see this film, because once seen, it will never be forgotten. :D :D :D :D ****++
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nadej_baptiste
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Re: The Red Shoes

Post by nadej_baptiste » Sun Sep 21, 2008 2:07 pm

This is a great film.
--Kamila

Corlyss_D
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Re: The Red Shoes

Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Sep 21, 2008 4:57 pm

OMG! Another winner, Mel.

I think this was the first ballet I'd ever seen. I saw it in Italy with my parents when we were stationed there. Pretty much the same troupe did the 1951 film of Tales of Hoffmann. I think that might have been my first opera. My dad, the Offenbach fan, took me to see it about 1960 or 61, at the old repertory cinema house in DC, Circle Theater at Dupont Circle.
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absinthe
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Re: The Red Shoes

Post by absinthe » Sun Sep 21, 2008 5:11 pm

Beautiful film and one of few chances to commit Moira Shearer to film. For once I could forget cinematographic issues and just get caught up in it.

So sorry when she had to move on in 2006....

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