The Red Shoes (1948) starring Moira Shearer, Marius Goring, Anton Walbrook, Jean Short directed by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger Movie Review

The Red Shoes (1948)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Shearer's Fancy Footwork

Everyone knows that Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) of the Ballet Lermontov is a slave driver and a perfectionist but it doesn't stop Vicky Page (Moira Shearer) from wanting to dance in the ballet or young composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring) from wanting to work for him. Unsurprisingly Lermontov demands complete and utter dedication from those who work in the ballet and when Page and Craster fall for each other he is furious and banishes them from the ballet. Despite having sacrificed their professional happiness Page and Craster marry and are happy until some years later Vicky returns to Monte Carlo and comes face to face with Lermontov who offers her another chance in his ballet but when Julian arrives their is dramatic consequences.

Dusty and still sealed "The Red Shoes" has sat on my shelf for some time as whilst a highly praised movie I knew even without opening the case I would struggle to fully enjoy it. The thing is from a technical point of view I knew I wouldn't have qualms; the direction, cinematography and acting would all entertain but the actual storyline with its mix of opera and ballet would be by nemesis which would lead me to drift away as quite simple neither ballet or opera is my thing.

Anton Walbrook in The Red Shoes (1948)

Now the thing is, is that "The Red Shoes" is really about obsession, love and choice as we have this storyline of Vicky obsessed with being a top ballet dancer but torn because she has fallen for Julian and even when she commits to love that part of her, that desire to dance still beats strongly. We also have the obsession of Lermontov, the expectation of perfection and that sense of control he has from being demanding and a perfectionist. And this is brought to life nicely in a way which people can follow. But Powell & Pressburger went further and wanted to recreate the feel of a ballet and that side of it, the music and dancing which sadly does little for me although I imagine fans of both the ballet and opera will enjoy this side especially the 15 minute ballet of "The Red Shoes".

The shame of this is that beyond the storyline and "The Red Shoes" is an experience, a glorious looking production, rich in detail and rich in colour with Moira Shearer's red hair attracting your eyes like moths to a flame. In truth you expect nothing less from a Powell & Pressburger movie and whilst ballet is not my thing even aspects of that are also impressive. It is the same with the acting with as I said Moira Shearer simply grabbing your attention visually but also when she dances as well as acts. It is the same through out with Anton Walbrook bringing to life the demanding nature of a self satisfied perfectionist.

What this all boils down to is that from a technical point of view I love "The Red Shoes"; the look, the acting and in truth the story all appeal to me. But as a self admitted philistine who isn't in to ballet the actual ballet aspect of the movie does very little for me despite it being exquisite and sublimely put together as a complete production.