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Film Recommendation: The Red Shoes (1948)

Lauded by film buffs (including director Martin Scorsese) as one of the most perfect movies ever made, The Red Shoes uses grand, theatrical visuals and achingly beautiful choreography to tell the tragic story of a woman torn between two demanding loves. Directed by one of classic cinema’s great creative duos—Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger—and based on a fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Red Shoes follows dancer Vicky Page (Moira Shearer) through her meteoric rise in becoming the prima ballerina of the Ballet Lermontov. She falls in love with prodigy composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring), but controlling company impresario Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) disapproves of any such distracting relationships between his two stars, especially since he himself is attracted to Vicky. Meanwhile, a stupendous ballet production of The Red Shoes is gradually brought to shimmering life by the company, culminating in a jaw-dropping performance by Shearer.

The timeless tale of passion, art, and sacrifice is given a magnificent stage to play out in The Red Shoes. Behind-the-scenes drama within Ballet Lermontov (a company full of colourful, dedicated minor characters) and an awe-inspiring, theatrical performance of the ballet-within-the story are given plenty of time to unfold in a riveting fashion. As it was shot in glorious Technicolor, the film is a sumptuous feast for the eyes as Shearer’s red hair, lips, and iconic shoes float dreamily through gorgeously crafted and inventive sets during her performance of the titular ballet. Beautiful backdrops and costumes are matched by powerful performances, both in acting and dancing. As the undisputed star, Shearer’s graceful and expressive movements tell the main story more than any line of dialogue (and she doesn’t really need or have many lines anyway).

On every level—acting, art direction, and story—The Red Shoes excels and makes its mark in cinematic history.

Ratings (out of 5):

Directing: 5

Story: 5

Acting: 5

Dialogue: 4

Editing: 4.5

Visuals: 5

Music/Score: 5

Overall Average: 4.8

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