If not, don’t miss this movie if you care about ballet or any of the other performance arts.
The Red Shoes is a British film production that was written, produced, and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, whose production company goes by the name The Archers. It centers on a ballet of the same name which is performed during the movie.
In my opinion, this Powell/Pressburger production is one of the best movies ever made about a ballet, if not the best. It’s a wow! The more often you view it, the more it grows on you and the better it gets.
The movie is based on a story by Hans Christian Anderson in which a young woman sees a pair of red shoes in a shop window which are offered to her by a demonic shoemaker; she puts them on and can’t take them off; they force her to dance frenetically until she dies of dancing. The ballet The Red Shoes that’s performed during the movie reenacts this story.
Moira Shearer acts and dances in the ballet, as do Leonide Massine, Robert Helpmann, and Ludmilla Tcherina. All these dancers are masters of their career specialties and competent film actors, as well. Marius Goring and Anton Walbrook are professional actors who play parts in the cinematic portions of the film but don’t dance. (Ballet dancing is not an easy skill to acquire, even for talented actors.)
The Red Shoes ballet was conceived by The Archers and was composed especially for the movie. Ballet music is composed by Brian Easdale and choreography devised by Massine. Cinematography is by Jack Cardiff. (Those are The Archers on the right.)
The ballet is choreographed and superlatively performed on the screen. The acting, dancing, directing, staging, screenplay, sets, scenery, lighting, makeup, costumes, and color photography are brilliant; they’re exciting; they turn you on! The original ballet music and choreography are brilliant; they turn you on too! Every dancing and acting performance is first class.
The ballet is superb, but there’s far more to the movie than a ballet performance. The movie is a cinematic tour de force, a smash!
The Red Shoes is just one of the don’t-miss art movies written, produced, and directed by The Archers. Others include The Tales of Hoffmann and Black Narcissus, two additional all-time greats. The Tales of Hoffmann is a unique performance of the Jacques Offenbach opera, and Black Narcissus is an intense original dramatization.
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