98. The Red Shoes (1948)

The_Red_Shoes_(1948_movie_poster)Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Written by Michael Powell, Emeric Presburger and Keith Winter

Produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Starring: Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook and Marius Goring

Country: United Kingdom

Relelase date: September 6, 1948

Why you should see it?

The Red Shoes is the most popular ballet movie ever made. This movie is a really enigmatic movie, you really don’t know what is about and also is a meta movie (a story within a story). The story inside the story is based in the fairy tale “The Red Shoes” by Hans Christian Anderson, and the other story is based in the meeting of Sergei Daghiter and the ballerina Diana Gould.

But, the main achievement of the movie is that, The Red Shoes is one of the few films (and the first film) that reflected all the grace and rhythm and power of ballet and at the same time mix the dance with a story really well executed (so well that it might seem like a simple story)  that remain eloquent and tasteful during the whole movie.

PLOT

Victoria ‘Vicky’ Page  is a young, unknown dancer from an aristocratic background. At an after-ballet party, arranged by her aunt as a surreptitious audition, she meets Boris Lermontov, the ruthless but charismatic impresario of the Ballet Lermontov. Lermontov takes her on as a student, where she is taught by, among others, Grisha Ljubov, the company’s chief choreographer.

After seeing her dance in a matinee performance of Swan Lake, Lermontov realises her potential and invites Vicky to go with the company to Paris and Monte Carlo. When he loses his prima ballerina  to marriage, Lermontov begins to see Vicky as a possible successor.” He decides to create a starring role for Vicky in a new ballet, The Red Shoes, the music for which is to be written by Julian Craster  a brilliant young composer engaged as orchestral coach the same day that Vicky was brought into the company.

As the premiere of the ballet approaches, Vicky and Julian lock horns artistically, and then fall in love. The ballet is a great success, and Lermontov talks with Vicky about her future. Lermontov revitalizes the company’s repertoire with Vicky in the lead roles, but when he learns of the affair between the two young lovers, he is furious at Julian for distracting Vicky from her dancing.

Julian refuses to end the affair, so he is fired, and Vicky decides to leave the company with him. They marry and live in London where Julian works on composing a new opera. Lermontov relents his decision to enforce Vicky’s contract, and permits her to dance where and when she pleases. The one exception is The Red Shoes: Lermontov retains the rights to the ballet and ownership of Julian’s music, and refuses to mount it again or allow anyone else to produce the ballet.

Some time later, while joining her aunt for a holiday in Monte Carlo, Vicky is visited on the train by Lermontov, who convinces her to return to the company to dance in a revival of The Red Shoes. On opening night, as she is preparing to perform, Julian appears in her dressing room; he has left the premiere of his opera at Covent Garden to take her back with him. Lermontov arrives, and he and Julian contend for Vicky’s soul.

Torn between her love for Julian and her need to dance, she cannot decide what to do. Julian, realising that he has lost her, leaves for the railway station, and Lermontov consoles her.

While being escorted to the stage by her dresser, and wearing the red shoes, Vicky is suddenly seized by an irresistible impulse and runs out of the theatre. Julian, on the platform of the train station, sees her and runs helplessly towards her. Vicky jumps from a balcony and falls in front of an approaching train. While lying on a stretcher, bloody and battered, she asks Julian to remove the red shoes, just as in the end of The Red Shoes ballet.

Shaken by Vicky’s death and broken in spirit, Lermontov appears before the audience to announce that “Miss Page is unable to dance tonight, nor indeed any other night.” Nevertheless, the company performs The Red Shoes with a spotlight on the empty space where Vicky would have been

 

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