Victoria “Vicky” Page (superbly performed by Moira Shearer) is a young ballerina from an aristocratic background who wants nothing more in life – not even life itself – than to dance. Joining an established ballet company she is first taken on as a student and for some time is passed over as just another in a line of hopeful young girls. But when director Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) sees her dance “Swan Lake” he finally realises her true potential.
At this time lead dancer Ludmilla Tchérina leaves the company to marry. Lermontov, infuriated by women who give up their talents and careers for the comforts of married life, chooses Vicky to be Ludmilla’s successor. But not without first making himself clear: “A dancer who relies upon the doubtful comforts of human love will never be a great dancer. Never.” Soon Vicky is given the opportunity of a lifetime: the lead role in an exceptional new ballet called “The Red Shoes” – taken from Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale of the same name.
Successful for a time, Vicky falls in love with the young, extremely talented composer of this new ballet, Julian Craster (Marius Goring), who is also under Lermontov’s employ. Somewhere between love and passion Julian and Vicky both lose themselves, their story ending in cruel, fateful devastation.
With the most wonderful dancing, choreography and music ever to grace the silver screen, The Red Shoes showcases the immense talent of established ballerinas Robert Helpmann, Léonide Massine and Ludmilla Tchérina, as well as original music by Brian Easdale. But the most striking element of all in this absolutely unmissable film is its stunning use of Technicolor. Honestly the most spectacular use of colour I have ever seen onscreen, The Red Shoes is also cited as one of two that Martin Scorsese deems to be the most beautiful colour films (the other being Jean Renoir’s The River, 1951.)
Possibly the most famous work by renowned filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, The Red Shoes is an absolute must-see and a genuinely affecting film experience.
Written by Tara Judah for The Astor Theatre.
The Red Shoes screens tonight at 7pm, Don’t miss it!