Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Red Shoes

One of the greatest tragedies, for me personally I think, was that I never got to watch the film The Red Shoes as a child. I think though I would have perhaps been a little frightened, I would have been transfixed. And maybe it would have been even more magical for me (if that is even possible).

As it is however, I did NOT see the movie as a child, indeed I did not have the pleasure of seeing it until last week.  I have always loved dancing. Though of course I am not blessed with a dancing ability my self, I still enjoy watching it. The Nutcracker is one of my favourite stories of all time because of this.

The Red Shoes…

What can I say about it?


No, it’s better then good. It’s amazing.

No, Magical.

No, Brilliant…

It’s all those things combined and more!

It’s like a moving piece of art, a wonderful canvas. Beautiful in all it’s splendor.

Though unfortunately my copy  of the movie is in dire need of restoration, so I feel as though I have somehow been cheated in enjoying the movie for all it’s worth. If I ever see it in it’s restored glory, I shall buy it and probably come on here and gush about it all the more! So, beware! XD

The story, when you strip all the layers and other things that are added in the movie, is a fairly simple one. It is a  “modern” adaptation of the Hans Christianson tale The Red Shoes
 A girl wishes nothing more than to dance. She gets her wish, when a manipulative yet charismatic  ballet impressario Boris Lermontov (played by Anton Walbrook)  allows her in his company. He is a hard person who expects nothing less then utter and complete devotion to the chosen field each  of his protégées has chosen. Under his guidance Vicki, the girl played by Moira Shearer, is seemingly destined for stardom and the composer a young Julian Craster (played by Marius Goring) is destined for the same.  Vicki lands the lead role in the new ballet production  entitled ‘The Red Shoes’, which instantly makes her a hit.

However when Vicki and Julian fall in love, much to the scorn of Boris Lermontov, Vicki must decide what she must choose- her greatest love or her greatest passion? Or perhaps, they are in fact the same thing? 

Without giving too much away, this movie is the perfect blend of fantasy, romance and tragedy. It is also a wonderful look and insight in to human nature as each of the main characters, Boris, Vicki and Julian, all struggle internally with their demons.

Moira Shearer and Anton Walbrook are the stand out’s for this film for me.  Anton in particular handles his emotional scenes with outstanding craft and technique. And Moira? She is simply breathtaking in some scenes, especially when she dances. The passion, talent and struggle all shows with her movements… She is indeed one of the most wonderful women of her profession to ever be filmed. How lucky we are to have her immortalized in such a way.

The best quote of the movie;

Boris: Why do you want to dance?

Vicki;  Why do you want to live?

Boris; Well I don't know exactly why, er, but I must.

Vicki; That's my answer too.

For some reason while I watched this movie  I kept thinking of Moulin Rouge, but I think that might just be because of the red hair and the ‘forbidden love’ aspect both films. However it is probable that Baz Luhrmann drew at least SOME inspiration from this movie, not that I mean this in an accusing or mean way, it’s just a fun thing to point out/know. :P

It’s a beautiful story, well told.  Though made in 1948 it has this certain timeless way about it, it still holds up very well in today’s standards and would no doubt still entertain numerous people from all walks of life. I don’t think I am or ever could do enough justice to it. So I beseech you all see the movie.  You won’t regret it. (And if you do for whatever unfathomable reason regret it, don’t yell at me! XDD)

The Red Shoes (1948)  and all it’s images  belongs to ‘General Film Distributors’ UK.


  1. The Red Shoes are extremely popular and I guess this film must be very good, but I never saw it. When I learned tapdance I planed to do ballet too, because I liked it, but I was soon cured:

    In my tapdance-class was a girl who danced classical ballet and modern-dance too. She was really crazy about dancing and somehow I admired her. But one day she told me her doctor had said she got to give up dancing, because her back was damaged. That girl was about to make her high-school diploma and her spine was already damaged. That scared me off.

    I like to see ballet, but if the ballerina bends backwards it gives me a pain, because I know what happens to the poor intervertebral discs then. Eleanor Powell is doing this in BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936 too - every time I see this I beg her not to do so, but she never cares. Some ballerinas even hit their own feet backwards with their head! How do I find this?!

    You know what, Nelly? Your RED SHOES post is looking so gorgeously, but on my old wirlybird it looks like a convent of zombies and vampires. Well I still have my older Linux-EeePC and can admire your post there - absolutely beautiful!

  2. Oh Gosh. That poor girl! I cannot imagine how much pain she must have been in.

    I wonder if Elanor Powell suffered any long term effects from doing that in Broadway Melody of 1936, hmmm...

    Well my cousins do ballet, and I am very envious of their amazing skills but at the same time also profusely proud of them too. I often think that they should have been born in the era of musicals and dancing films, no doubt they would have been big stars. Of course, they probably will be even in todays media. But one of my cousins has had problems with her feet, they have become damaged and one foot has become bent because of all the practice and dancing she does...

    So I can understand why you would be 'scared off'. I have to admit I have often congratulated myself privately for never having to go through what they and so many others did for their art. Still, one cannot deny the beauty of ballet. *sigh*

    Lol zombies and vampires! :P Well they are the latest craze at the moment, particularly vampires. XDD But I am glad you can see it properly in your Linux-EeePC, the images from the glorious film are too pretty not to admire!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment again ^_^

  3. Yes, Nelly - the big toe ... how could I forget this?!

    I knew another woman, she was about 30 and she had metal stuff in her big toes. She got too often on the tip of her 'big uncles' and they couldn't stand it: First they're bending inside and then the sinews tear them even more inside. **GREAT!** Maybe I shouldn't, but I find this quite funny.

    Nelly, those people are just crazy. It fits perfectly to my last words in our never ending story. And it's even worse. Once I heard on the radio about the casting at a certain high-school, where ballet is majored. The radio-woman said: "And now they're watching the kids, whether they can bend their backs backwards." And then she asked one of the teachers, whether this was really good for the children's health. I don't remember the answer, but I told this to a classmate in my recent baroque-dance school. She said: "Well, I think we all gotta make sacrifices to art."

    Nelly, in this point we're still living in Stone Age: They're sacrificing their children to the goddess of art!

    So this is great stuff for comedy. Why not making a comedy about vanity of ballet - in a really intelligent way. This would be fun and it would teach people not to take art too serious. You know these people, Nelly: They go where they play Bach. And they make sophisticated faces while listening to the dullest of his fugues. Afterwards they talk as if they would've understood this all. But even Bach himself could understand this. He just figured that stuff out, but no human being is able to get 32 instrumental parts at one time by ear. Bach was just wondering why people adored his "Well Tempered Clavier". He said: "Actually it's not beautiful music, it's just an experiment."

    As I said in our never ending story: Humanity is just crazy. Most of that cultured vanity is nothing but insanity. And in such a world nothing but comedy makes sense. Real' intelligent comedy, which show's the truth. The people who make that up have fun and they learn something (I'm learning too while writing - understand things much better myself afterwards!). And the people who watch it have fun and learn something.

    You get less pay, but you make sense. And your 'big uncles' won't be twisted.

  4. I forgot the word NOT:

    Clarissa Smith said:
    But even Bach himself could understand this.

    Bach himself could NOT understand this! (Nobody can hear 32 instrumental parts at one time - the human brain can't manage that - all we hear in this case is chaos).

  5. I think I would love to see such a comedy. I mean you're right most of these dancers sacrifice so much to the point that it's funny. I have the highest respect for these dancers, as I said my cousins are dancers and I love to watch it, but all the things they have to do and sacrifice to be able to do what they love seems a bit drastic to me. I guess it's because I don't understand the need they seemingly feel to their art. But yes I would love to see a sort of intelligently written sattire of the ballet world. It would be most amusing.