Saturday, August 14, 2010

Screen Gem Saturdays: The Red Shoes

No, I’m not talking about the ones from “The Wizard of Oz;” these are the ones from the classic 1948 film directed and produced by the extremely creative team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Inspired by the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, it is somewhat dark in its tone, dealing with a ballerina (the gorgeous Moira Shearer) who is driven too hard by her pygmalion-like impresario (Anton Walbrook).

Although dark in its story, the imagery is a visual feast of Technicolor (much actually shot on lush location).

The shoes themselves play an integral and symbolic character in the film, representing one half of the choice Vicky (Moira Shearer) must make: career or love. This is a struggle that still occurs, making this film still relevant and fresh for those who watch it now, over 60 years after its release.

Shearer made an impressive film debut, seeming totally natural and fresh in her first move role. In counterpoint, Walbrook is a bit of a ham, which works well for the film as it fits into his character’s driven nature: “A dancer who relies upon the doubtful comforts of human love will never be a great dancer. Never.” Must one sacrifice love or a balanced life to achieve success? This film provides a very depressing answer to that age-old question.

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William Bezek said...

I just saw the restored print of this at the Cinemateque, the color was beautiful...almost surreal. But geez was it depressing, especially considering the time with self satisfied Americans winning the war and feeling like they had saved the world.

Mike, Studio city said...

William, the film can be a bit "sad" but it must be seen. You say you saw it at the Cinemateque, the old Egyptian, right? Do you like what they did to the interior? I liked the old "campy decor" Egyptian.

CoxPilot said...

Great pic, Dave. I like the effect of the B&W with the shoes colored.

I saw this film years ago at a small foreign film theater is L.A. I can't remember where it was, but my wife and I ate at the Samovar Russian restaurant across the street. I'm sure both are long gone.

Douglas McEwan said...

I owe my life to THE RED SHOES. My parents went to see it on their very first date.