Note : this review is my contribution to the blogathon My Favorite Classic Movie hosted by Rick at Classic Film & TV Café.
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948)
A young ballet dancer is torn between the man she loves and her pursuit to become a prima ballerina.
As debatable as this affirmation can be, The Red Shoes is The Archers’ masterpiece. And I’m standing firmly on my position about this opinion. Even if they have a bunch of other outstanding films like Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death, and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, the great dancing sequences and the superb composition of frames and the tremendous acting of Moira Shearer and Anton Walbrook, just to name those two, makes it one of the most re watchable movies of all time.
Previously, I wrote The Archers which is the name of the company of co-directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Together they directed nineteen films and half of them are considered as classics and five of the whole lot are at some level masterpieces. We’ll however concentrate our attention on The Red Shoes and its qualities.
With its careful treatment by the Criterion Collection, cinephiles of today can watch it in a condition that is as good as at the time the film was released in 1948. On the question of his favorite film of all time, famous great director Martin Scorsese has often answered The Red Shoes and places it with Jean Renoir’s The River as the two best Technicolor films of all time. His admiration of the film is so strong that the sets and his signature in his film New York, New York are directly inspired by The Archers’ film.
Talking about The Red Shoes’ influence, you have Dario Argento’s masterpiece Suspiria that borrows the vivid colors and aesthetics of its dancing predecessor. Argento’s violent film also has a visual beauty in his Hitchcock horror. In the latest years, the Darren Aronofsky batshit crazy Black Swan film which the story is also about a female ballerina dancer has obviously been projected the crew to get some of the elements and feels. Especially the relationship between the dancer and the director is different but shows how strong this element can be in the life of a ballerina.
It is a sumptuous film that Powell and Pressburger did in The Red Shoes and the production and the final are proving me right when I state, once again, that it is their masterpiece. It’s been ten years since the first time I watched The Red Shoes and I can vividly recall every scene from this first watch. Since then, it became a favorite of mine and this is why choose to pick this movie as my favorite classic film for the first National Classic Movie Day.