English Language Wednesday: The Red Shoes (1948)

11 05 2011

With the recent success of Darren Aronofsky’s dramatic thriller Black Swan, it seems appropriate to go back to an obvious inspiration in The Red Shoes. The Red Shoes is about young Victoria Page (Moira Shearer), a ballet dancer completely committed to her craft. She gets accepted into a company led by the famous director Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) and works her way to the top. Boris is an incredibly demanding director and when she falls in love with a composer (Marius Goring) he kicks both of them out casuing Victoria to have to choose between her love, Julian Craster (Marius Goring), and dancing. This is a lavish story of human passion with believable characters and excellent direction. In short a film not to be missed.

“Why do you want to dance?”

The two main characters and the actors who play them are perhaps one of the biggest strength of The Red Shoes. Moira Shearer brings a presence to her part which is particularly remarkable as this is her first movie. She gives Victoria an innocent girl-next-door feel while a stern conviction brews underneath. She is overwhelmed, determined, and conflicted all at the same time. Anton Walbrook plays the strict, overbearing director in a very human way. He is understandable and very friendly most of the time yet he has a clear goal and will do anything to achieve it. Nevertheless there always feels like a real person underneath making it easy to relate to some part of him. These two characters, along with the rest of the principle cast, all could have been done in stereotypes or one-dimensionally but instead they bring a friendliness and depth to the movie which makes every scene enjoyable.

“Why do you want to live? “

The highlight of the movie may come half way through in the form of a 15 minute long presentation of the The Red Shoes; the play Borris Lermontov’s company is putting on. The music is fantastic and Victoria dances her way through dream-like settings to an echo of our larger movie. The backdrops and costumes are amazing as well as the editing of the directorial team known as The Archers which adds to the fantasy element of this unforgettable performance.

The Red Shoes is about love, passion, and the willingness to do anything to fulfill those dreams; even if it means sacrificing a bit of oneself in the process. Victoria’s journey is engrossing and although the end may not come together as smoothly as the previous two hours went, it is still a fantastic story and visually stunning.

Score: 97/100

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