A poet dreams of three women—a mechanical performing doll, a bejeweled siren, and the consumptive daughter of a famous composer—all of whom break his heart in different ways. Powell and Pressburger create a phantasmagoric marriage of cinema and opera in this one-of-a-kind classic.
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I guess I have to say I'm not one to judge this film, as opera is an art form I have yet to understand or appreciate - and this film is not much more than a filmed opera. As bizarre and phantasmagoric as the imagery is, it really isn't enough to sit through two and a half hours for. If you can appreciate opera, it might be for you, but it doesn't really work as a film, even for fans of director Michael Powell.
Overstuffed and overlong -- the vivid excitement of the 20 minute Red Shoes Ballet is here dulled into archness, the charm wears off in a hurry. Helpmann, Massine and others manage some fine moments, but poor Robert Rounseville sings like an angel and acts like Keanu. It's all been done better elsewhere -- check out Bergman's film of THE MAGIC FLUTE, which doesn't sink under the weight of all that gimmickry.