It's been said that this 1948 classic has been responsible for the ballet lessons of more young girls than any other film. It's not hard to understand why: Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger's dark fairy tale presents the ballet as an exquisite, magical work of art; but under the theatrics and glory is an all-consuming lifestyle with the power to destroy those who love it perhaps too much. Moira Shearer practically glows as Victoria "Vicky" Page, a young woman consumed by a will to dance who is accepted into the highly prestigious ballet company run by perfectionist Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook). Meanwhile, a gifted young composer, Julian Craster (Marius Goring), is brought on board as an orchestra coach, and later conductor and composer of the ballet that will make Vicky's name: The Red Shoes, one of the most beautiful and dramatic dances ever captured on film. Professional and personal jealousies soon pull this creative team apart, however, and Vicky is torn between her love of Julian, her responsibility to Boris, and her need to dance. Powell and Pressburger recast Hans Christian Andersen's sad story as a modern romantic melodrama, highlighted by beautiful dances and shot, not as stage ballets, but rather as expressionist cinematic dramas on impossibly grand sets awash with bold color and beautifully captured in glorious Technicolor by cinematographer Jack Cardiff. It's a brilliant melding of dance and drama as Vicky's real life mirror's the tragic story she danced in the Red Shoes ballet. --Sean Axmaker
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