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THE RED SHOES Movie Review

michael emeric pressburger powell

A masterpiece. Though it was inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Red Shoes is an absolute original, and the quintessential film from writers/producers/directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, known together as the Archers. It's the story of a talented young ballerina named Victoria Page, (Moira Shearer) who studies under the unforgiving, tyrannical impresario Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook). As she trains to perform in a ballet of The Red Shoes, the story of an enchanted pair of ballet slippers that cause their wearer to dance herself to death, it becomes apparent to Shearer that her life and her art have come together with overwhelming intensity. If Citizen Kane is the movie that started the most number of filmmakers on their careers, then surely The Red Shoes did the same for dancers. It's a perfectly realized, thrillingly conceived adult fairy tale, every bit as powerful (and disturbing) today as it was 50 years ago. (It's still popular, as well. Perhaps too popular; a few years ago at a museum showing in Detroit, the audience and staff made the unpleasant discovery that a still-unknown “collector” who had temporary possession of the commercially distributed print previously had removed the entire, 14-minute ballet sequence that is pivotal to the film.) Seeing The Red Shoes in a good quality, color-restored videocassette or laserdisc is essential to appreciating and enjoying it; seeing a restored 35mm print projected in a theatre is ideal.

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1948 136m/C GB Anton Walbrook, Moira Shearer, Marius Goring, Leonide Massine, Robert Helpmann, Albert Basserman, Ludmila Tcherina, Esmond Knight; D: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell; W: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell; C: Jack Cardiff. Academy Awards ‘48: Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (Color), Best Original Dramatic/Comedy Score; Golden Globe Awards ‘49: Best Score; Nominations: Academy Awards ‘48: Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Story. VHS, LV, Closed Caption PAR, HMV

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