Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Red Shoes

Made in 1948, the Red Shoes is, apparently, THE great ballet movie of all time. The reason it features in the 2010 film festival is that is has recently been restored. (You can read all about the restoration here .) I read lots of English Ballet novels when I was a child (no TV, you understand) and while I can't remember references to The Red Shoes, Moira Shearer definitely featured. Sunday afternoon at the film festival seemed a good time to see what all the fuss was about.

The story is all a bit melodramatic by twenty-first century standards but gripping nonetheless. Moira Shearer plays Vicky Page, a rising ballet star. Vicky is given her big break by the ballet company director (Boris) who offers her the leading role in The Red Shoes. The director has also given a big break to young conductor and composer Julian Craster, getting him to score the ballet music. In the process of rehearsing and performing the Red Shoes Julian and Vicky fall in love, much to Boris's disgust - he prefers his artistes to concentrate on their jobs and lavish any spare emotion on him. Poor old Vicky has to choose between love and dancing and this causes more turmoil than you'd expect - it turns into a tragedy on an epic scale, echoing the plot of the ballet itself.

There's definitely justification for the fuss - this is a beautiful film to look at on all sorts of levels. Moira Shearer is just gorgeous - wonderful red hair and big blue eyes and an hourglass waist and her party clothes are fabulous. It's fun to see Covent Garden when there was still a working market next door, and the scenery in Monte Carlo is suitably splendid. There's a big chunk of the ballet to watch which is great. There are 1940's hairstyles to admire and that clipped English delivery to marvel at - did people REALLY talk like that? The Red Shoes is escapism on a grand scale and you should take the opportunity to escape if it arises.

Anne's rating 4.5/5

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