The Red Shoes

The Red Shoes ★★★★★

The Red Shoes is a wonderful masterpiece. Let's just get that right out of the way. I don't see a way it doesn't make it onto my top 100 this year and I don't see it falling off any time soon. There's something so special about it that captured me from the early goings and never let go. Here's what happens. A young man (composer) and a young woman (dancer) both go to a new ballet put on by the world's premiere, um, ballet guy and shortly thereafter join his troupe and become his newest proteges. They work together to make a new version of The Red Shoes and then things get bad. The head ballet guy, Lermontov, doesn't allow his collaborators to fall in love because it robs them of their emotional messed-up-ness which makes them great artists. Of course, since both the composer and dancer are attractive young people, they fall in love. The dancer is then torn between her desire to become the best dancer in the world and her love for her composer. It's a classic story that works really well in the world of ballet and under the tutelage of Messrs. Powell and Pressburger.

They are, for all the dancing and music, the real stars of this show. They bring a kind of falseness to the film that actually allows the melodrama of the stage production and the behind the scenes stuff to blow up into their most heightened possible states. Everything is big and when even the stuff that's supposed to be happening in the real world seems like it's taking place on a stage we go along with it, get wrapped up in it. The technicolor is a wonder, truly one of the best looking films I've ever seen, color-wise. The centerpiece is the 15 minute long depiction of The Red Shoes ballet. It starts off pretty normal but Powell and Pressburger don't settle for just showing what the audience might see. No, instead they use pretty much every cinematic trick available to them in 1948 to make the movie audience understand just how transcendent the dancer and composer are. It's so, so, so good. This is the movies!

Alex liked this review