Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Red Shoes (1948)

While talk of Black Swan is still fresh, I'm going to take this opportunity to acquaint you with, or even re-introduce you to The Red Shoes, Powell and Pressburger's glorious technicolor fairytale of 1948.

The reclusive but celebrated Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) composes a ballet based upon Hans Christian Anderson's fairytale The Red Shoes. The brilliant Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) takes the lead role, her ambitions of becoming a prima ballerina soon conflict with her love for the ballet's music composer. She has to choose between Lermontov and the ballet or her life with Julian (Marius Goring) and the difficult choice soon consumes her. Her own life begins to eerily parallel that of the heroine in her most memorable role.

Interestingly, Moira Shearer was a ballerina, not an actress when she took this role, she rebuffed the role for over a year before eventually submitting and accepting it. Filming was not a happy experience, she was often hitched up on a wire while being buffeted by a wind machine for several hours. She was also Scottish! Her flaming locks and red shoes will always be an icon of British cinema.

I had a brief flirtation with ballet as a child, but a combination of a lack of enthusiasm and my own boisterousness soon quenched any possible (unlikely) life path in that most enchanting of dances. Perhaps if I had seen this as a child I would have been inspired.

PS. I have many more screencaps of The Red Shoes on my Flickr, you can also find the film on youtube, if you can't come by the DVD (the DVD quality is excellent, as it has been digitally restored). This translates even better to an intimate cinema setting, which I had the opportunity to experience once, last summer.


  1. Oh how I love that film... Great post on it!

  2. Oooh looks lovely, hopefully not as gruesome as Black Swan. Particularly love the red ballet slippers. I too paid my dues to the ballet world from about age 4 - 8, it's the nicest hobby for little girls. Definitely watching this film though, thank you kindly.

  3. i've just found your blog and i love it - definitely a new follower! i think we have similar taste in films, i thought red shoes and somewhere were both excellent.

    ♥ elle

    elle & the fashion folk

  4. Oh it's on Youtube? Amazing!! I've always wanted to see it!

  5. The Red Shoes is the most horrible fairy tale ever, I remember having nightmares after reading it! All the Andersen ones are a bit screwed up, though... I shall have to watch the film!

  6. Saw The Red Shoes over Christmas, such a bizarre yet oddly beautiful film. And the ending? Crazy! There are definite parallels with Black Swan too.
    Apparently, and somewhat curiously, The Red Shoes is one of Martin Scorsese's favourite films.

  7. my boyfriends parents loved the red shoes so much they namedhim julian :)

  8. This looks lovely! I love everything related to ballet :) I'll definitely add it to my to-watch list. Thank you--I doubt I would have heard of this without you! I really love the pink costume with the blue trim