The Red Shoes

The Red Shoes

(The Red Shoes)
Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger / GB, 1948
English version / Czech subtitles, 135 min

For their tenth film together, Powell and Pressburger found inspiration in the romantic story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, about a girl who succumbs to the power of magic dancing shoes. They then developed the idea into a stirring story of consuming passion for art and the creative process. A talented ballet dancer (Moira Shearer) has a dream fulfilled when impresario Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) engages her for his ensemble. The inspirational and demonic manager relentlessly insists that his company subjugate their privacy to higher artistic goals. Thanks to a performance of “The Red Shoes,” Vicky’s career takes off. And of course this is the moment when her friendship with composer Julian (Marius Goring) turns into love, leaving the new star of the company to face a life-altering decision. The Archers’ most famous production used pioneering methods to connect the once separate arenas of theater and film. During the innovative 15-minute ballet sequence, viewers are drawn out of the comfort of their seats into Vicky’s interior world where “mundane” feelings struggle against her commitment to art. Thanks to extensive digital restoration, completed last year at Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker’s instigation, audiences are now able to appreciate the Technicolor spectacle much as Powell, Pressburger, and their associates originally envisioned.

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