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The Red Shoes

Now Playing 2h 13m Drama Romance List
99% Tomatometer 67 Reviews 91% Audience Score 10,000+ Ratings
In this classic drama, Vicky Page (Moira Shearer) is an aspiring ballerina torn between her dedication to dance and her desire to love. While her imperious instructor, Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook), urges to her to forget anything but ballet, Vicky begins to fall for the charming young composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring). Eventually Vicky, under great emotional stress, must choose to pursue either her art or her romance, a decision that carries serious consequences. Read More Read Less
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The Red Shoes

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The Red Shoes

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Critics Consensus

The Red Shoes is one of the best-looking movies ever, and blends multiple moods and styles with balletic grace.

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Critics Reviews

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Sara Michelle Fetters The Red Shoes showed me I could transcend who I was born as and become who I knew I was supposed to be. Rated: 4/4 Nov 16, 2023 Full Review George Campbell Dixon Daily Telegraph (UK) These faults, if faults they be, may well be outweighed by the beauty of the ballet sequences and music, by the skill with which Mr Powell always uses colour, and by Miss Shearer's endearing charm. Mar 9, 2015 Full Review TIME Magazine A lingering, calf-eyed look at backstage ballet's little world of overworked egos and underdone glands. Mar 9, 2015 Full Review Rich Cline Shadows on the Wall Powell and Pressburger's films stand up because they tap into the human condition while pushing cinematic boundaries, and this is one of their most indelible fables. Rated: 5/5 Dec 12, 2023 Full Review Victor Pineyro Seventh Art Studio Black Swan wouldn't exist without The Red Shoes, a film about the most primitive human emotions, through the most exquisite forms of art. Powell-Pressburger were absolute masters of their craft. Incredible film. Full review in Spanish Rated: 9/10 Apr 8, 2022 Full Review Michael Barrett PopMatters Andersen himself achieved a dizzying worldwide success by pouring out his anguish in charming characters and, if we are to believe what we hear, it didn’t free him from his unhappy isolation. Rated: 10/10 Mar 23, 2022 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Lars N It's influence aside it's a bit to melodramatic to my liking Rated 2 out of 5 stars 07/21/24 Full Review Gertrude F The film itself much resembles a ballet. The beauty and the grace, the tragedy, everything comes together- a harmony of visual spectacle and great storytelling. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 06/21/24 Full Review David C A simply beautiful and stunning piece of cinema. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/26/24 Full Review Matthew B The period between the 1930s and the 1950s was marked by a good many song-and-dance movies. The Red Shoes is not one of those. It is not based around songs. The dancing is ballet, but we are only given one complete performance, an extended ballet sequence in the film, which had never been attempted before. The Red Shoes is not a film that belongs in the same category as those films. It is a far more serious film. I am not saying better. That depends on one's judgement. Only more serious – it is a drama that does not end in a joyous conclusion. It is every bit as escapist as the musicals, but with more of an awareness of the dark side of a life given over to art. The leading actress in The Red Shoes began in a different place too. It was quite typical in musicals for the lead female star to be an actress who learned how to dance. In the case of The Red Shoes, Moira Shearer was a dancer who learned how to act, and indeed a number of the other cast members were primarily dancers. Just as Ginger Roger and Debbie Reynolds showed an awe-inspiring ability to learn difficult dance numbers, so Moira Shearer proved to be an impressive actress, coping with a complex role. With her perfectly slender figure and gorgeous red hair, she was a remarkable woman to look at. A journalist called Ludovic Kennedy watched the movie, and vowed that he would marry her if ever they met. He did, and they stayed together until her death. What motivates Lermontov and Victoria? Are they in love with one another? Think of the way Victoria hastily tries to make herself look presentable when Lermontov unexpectedly boards her train, even though there is a rift between the two of them. Look at Lermontov's face when he learns of the romance between Victoria and Julian. Count the cigarette butts in his ash tray after she has left, and speculate why he breaks the mirror in anger. Yet somehow I do not think that there is any serious sexual or romantic attraction between them. Lermontov's sexuality is ambiguous. His bright and flamboyant clothing might suggest (in the coded manner of old movies) that he is homosexual, but there are no other hints that he likes men. In fact he appears to be totally asexual. He lives only for his art. As he says at one point, "The music is all that matters. Nothing but the music." The same is probably true of Victoria. It is dancing and not love that binds her to Lermontov: "Why do you want to live?" she said of dancing earlier. In a way, Michael Powell (the film's director) and Emeric Pressburger (the film's scriptwriter) sympathise with Victoria's choice. They too favour art over reality, although they realise the price that has to be paid for that. In a decade when British films were aiming for a greater realism, Powell and Pressburger offer us a fantasy of exquisite dresses, wealthy lifestyles and elegant dancing far removed from the lives of ordinary people. We see the realities of a dance company – the grumbling, the spats, the chaotic sprawl, the dancers who arrive late for rehearsal, and the affection and camaraderie. However these never detract from the magic of what we see – the bright, vibrant colours, the loving close-ups of the musical instruments, and the unusual camera angles during the dances – sometimes long-shots, sometimes close-ups, sometimes from the point of view of the dancer, even on one occasion as she twirls. Then there is the ballet sequence itself, a virtuoso piece of film-making that causes me to stare at the screen with a genuine sense of awe. It is difficult to describe what makes a dance great. You have to watch it for yourself. I will only mention the surreal and unreal qualities of the dance. This is not a genuine ballet dance performed for a theatre. This is a cinematic dance, one that uses levels of inspired visual trickery. The wizard behind it is cinematographer, Jack Cardiff, a man who did not even wish to work on a ballet film, and was only slowly won over to the idea. Cardiff manipulates the camera speed to make the dancers appear to hover in the air. We are shown POV shots from the dancer's perspective that an audience could not possibly hope to see. It is doubtful that a theatre production could have shown the following: two Victorias dancing at the same time; her lover turning two-dimensional; Victoria floating in the air; Victoria dancing with a newspaper that turns into a person; the magician's face turning into Lermontov and then Julian; a dance floor that becomes an island; the conductor joining in a dance with Victoria; ballerinas who transform into flowers and birds; a crashing sea appearing behind the conductor; or a knife that changes into a flower as the desperate dancer tries to cut off her own feet. All this trickery belongs only to the world of moviemaking, and I cannot help suspecting that the theatre is a metaphor for Michael Powell's own craft. Where else could we see these images but in a movie? Is it too far-fetched to suggest that Lermontov is Powell himself? As one of the most prominent film directors of his age, Powell too had the gift to find new acting talent, and to transform their lives forever, for better or worse. Does he not share Lermontov's preference for fantasy over realism in his film-making? The Red Shoes is a film of great power and complexity that has to be absorbed rather than watched. However even if the story is not to your tastes, the ballet scene alone makes the film unmissable. I wrote a longer appreciation of The Red Shoes on my blog page if you would like to read more (spoilers are included): Rated 5 out of 5 stars 09/05/23 Full Review Jim H At its heart, The Red Shoes is a cautionary tale of the tragic consequences certain to befall any mere woman who values her career more than marriage, regardless of how much "talent" she and her morally questionable "friends" believe her to possess. Astoundingly beautiful cinematography, set design and choreography. ...Yes, I am using sarcasm, but I am also accurately describing the moral underpinnings of this film. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 07/18/23 Full Review Red T An All Time Classic. The highlight of this is the incredible cinematography which is amazingly shot, lavish, and filled with memorable sets and locales. The 20 minute Red Shoe dance sequence is one of the best scenes in any film I have ever seen. It is so imaginative, eye popping and visually stunning things I've ever seen. The music is phenomenal as well with incredible dancing to go along with it. The editing is masterfully done with creative transitions and especially the work in the 20 minute dance scene is amazing. The pacing is very well done also, the one knock is sometimes it can meander for a bit in the first half but it is without a question worth it to get to the dance sequence and the story after as well. A great and interesting plot. Everyone should give this a try. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/04/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Red Shoes

My Rating


Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis In this classic drama, Vicky Page (Moira Shearer) is an aspiring ballerina torn between her dedication to dance and her desire to love. While her imperious instructor, Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook), urges to her to forget anything but ballet, Vicky begins to fall for the charming young composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring). Eventually Vicky, under great emotional stress, must choose to pursue either her art or her romance, a decision that carries serious consequences.
Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Hans Christian Andersen, Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Keith Winter, Marius Goring
MCA/Universal Pictures [us], Criterion Collection
Production Co
The Archers, Independent Producers
Drama, Romance
Original Language
British English
Release Date (Theaters)
Sep 6, 1948, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Mar 23, 2017
2h 13m
Sound Mix
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