Once you commit yourself to following your passion, there is no turning back, and compromise would be fatal. A sophisticated, radiant showbiz psychodrama about the prohibitive cost of striving for ideals. No longer must I wonder why the eponymous ballet sequence is so widely revered; it approaches 'total art'-- interconnected creative disciplines that give shape to an immersive, omni-sensory emotional experience.
A marvelous, expressionistic, hypnotizing assemblage of passion and obsession, expressed through some of the most engaging movement to have ever been captured on film (and in Technicolor). Space and time collapse in kaleidoscopic flurry! Its final leg does limp a bit, succumbing to a culmination of events that, although fitting and utterly inevitable, feel too rudimentary in execution.
I think this movie is kitsch. Ballet and film are not a match made in heaven. Everything is over the top. Moira Shearer redeems a lot but here she is saddled with heavy melodrama. The exotic Powell/Pressburger “Black Narcissus” was a more congenial vessel for their flamboyance.
It's the complexity of the cast specifically Lermontov who's personal background is left in speculation that happens backstage of the theatre and the visual treat onstage of the dancing choreography, music and fantasy element that I thought was lifted in a real life Fantasia segment. Nothing matters but the dance and dedicating your life to perfecting the art and becoming the greatest that anyone has known on stage.
A near-masterwork of melodrama, perhaps the most impressive facet of which is the expressionistic interpretation of the dance, which, rather than a staged recording, constructs it own cinematic world of editing tricks, close-ups and elaborate sets, which reflect the fraught emotional world of the plot. A dream in a sleeping theatre.
I know I'm very much in the minority but I don't understand why this film is as praised as it is. Yeah, the dance scene was fantastic, perhaps even one of the greatest moments in cinema in its entirety, but that alone isn't enough to get past flat characters, absurdly hammy acting and an ending so melodramatic it becomes ridiculous. Worth watching for the imagery alone but certainly not the masterpiece people say.
Red shoes - the locus of clashing compulsions. Think Vic & Julian would fit in Barbican's expo on creative couples if fiction qualified? Gustav & Alma Mahler are featured, linked by comparable ignominy: Alma quit her musicianship to advocate her husband's. Memento Clara Schumann who crossed out lieds for liebe. To say woman is nature is spraying venom on a posy: nature blossoms mid pestilence & needn't make a Choice.
4,5. In terms of body of work, maybe The Tales of Hoffmann is best resolved. Furthermore, people like Lermontov are abominable, even in the world of fiction. But... but... what are those scenic art and paintings!? And The Red Shoes choregraphy!?? And the music?! Breathless.
Such colors! Plot is thematically complete but suffers from an overlong runtime. Some of the acting is too Old Hollywood dramatic, although the film feels well ahead of its time (1948!). Several shots are jaw-dropping, particularly in the extended ballet sequence. Walbrook steals the show as Lermontov.