Title: The Red Shoes (1948)
Director: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Notable Actors: Moira Shearer
This is probably my All TIME favorite movie! I don't say that lightly, and I am certainly not implying that there aren't a lot of great movies in existence. However, this one is just "IT" for me. I love the music, the costumes, the color, the story, the children, and on and on it goes.
The story is, of course, inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's immortal tale of the same name. However, this version also plays a lot with art. It includes a ballet also named "The Red Shoes" (an adaptation of the same H.C.A. story), which has some quite innovative dance sequences. The gripping story presents three key characters: a fledgling ballerina named Victoria Page, her lover the talented composer Julian Craster, and her impresario Boris Lermontov. As these two loves conflict (essentially her love for a man and her love for her art, which leads to the observation that The Red Shoes also draws from Tennyson's "The Lady of Shallot") it sends Victoria Page into a classic "Sophie's Choice" scenario.
This is an image from the ballet in the movie, but, of course, it also acts as an anchor, a catalyst, and a symbol to what is going on in the movie. However, let's talk about why this movie is truly my favorite (just as I would say Les Miserables is my favorite book, but I hold so many dear - still haven't found one for comic books yet, and you really can't force it. You either immediately connect with it or you don't). This movie actually grabbed me right off the shelf (having already seen a Powell and Pressburgers film I was glad to see another one). I bought it that day, took it home, and watched it immediately. Right away, I was captivated by the opening excitement I felt with the students rushing to get the best of the cheapest seats - pushing and shoving people out of their way, eager to watch the debut of a professor's symphony. This is how we are introduced to Julian Craster, the lover.
He is earnest, deeply gifted, and highly concerned with his art, which is why he is devastated when his professor steals his piece! Obviously, he is beyond upset, and, as a result, he writes an enraged letter to Boris Lermontov. Upon which one of the most enduring lines from any film (a life lesson -and you know how I feel about life changing art) is uttered by Lermontov when he says to Craster "It is worth remembering, that it is much more disheartening to have to steal than to be stolen from." That line just speaks to me of art and those who seek to create it - fascinating.
This is merely a glimpse into the fascinating world of The Red Shoes. This is the movie I force my friends to watch when they come over. I want to share it with everyone I know and those I haven't even met yet (something all great art should illicit from the viewer).
This movie is one of the movies closest to perfect that I have ever watched. The only flaw that might be present is the length and pacing. I would not be surprised if some people termed it "slow." But, I simply can't agree. I think they do a great job with pacing the story - keeping you engaged and fascinated.
The Red Shoes represents an intriguing look into the psyche of an artist, especially one who does want to be consumed with her art, even as she wants to enjoy ordinary life (through her relationship with Craster). It is also a cautionary tale to all artists or those involved with artists.
Its startling mix of reality and the fairy tale world invites the reader into a harrowing picture of the world. I can't encourage you enough to see this movie! Because I love this movie I am going to post a trailer to it be enticed: http://http//www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSgar55BfPw. You can also watch The Red Shoes for FREE on youtube: http://http//www.youtube.com/watch?v=svTTsrHCvdo. Or - even better - you could buy it: http://http://www.amazon.com/Red-Shoes-Criterion-Collection-Blu-ray/dp/B003ICZW8C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1280883702&sr=8-1.