Mini-Review – “The Red Shoes” (1948)


This one might get added to the list of films I hate, but everyone else loves.

I have made it no secret that I’m not a fan of musicals at all, as most of the subtleties and nuances of music go over my head. I admit my lack of the basic understanding of music is the problem, but a film should still rely on visual storytelling and stand on its own merits even without the music.

While there are parts of “The Red Shoes” that are impressive, such as the 15-minute sequence that comes in the middle of the film where Vicky Page (Moria Shearer) enacts the entirety of the Red Shoes ballet, there are so few scenes that left an impact on me that it is hard to remember exactly what happened.

We are told about a plot about the start of the ballet falling in love with the composer, as the director of the play being completely against it, but I don’t buy for a second that the ballerina and the composer are in love. As I said, we are simply told about it, never shown it. The cast and crew talk about how great it is that love has blossomed, but we never see any chemistry between the two until after the romance has supposed started. After that, it is only kissing and making googly eyes at one another.

The only character actions that seem logical are the emotional reactions from the director, Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook), as he watches the greatest dancer he’s ever witnessed and his miraculous composer fall in love and his jealousy consumes him. He is a man who only sees the beauty of art in life, and sees anything else and childish and a waste of talent and time. This does lead to a memorable ending where Vicky must make the ultimate decision as to which world she wants to live in – a world of love, or a world of ballet.

Though it does beg the question – Is it too much to ask for both?

“The Red Shoes” has moments of ingenuity and passion for the art of ballet, but it is surrounded by scenes of unimportance and banal that it makes the experience feel forgettable. Like other films that tackle art forms, such as “Almost Famous,” there is clearly a love for that almighty art, but the movie never bothers to keep the audience in the loop. The only people who would utterly get this piece are those understand ballet and theatre inside and out.

Final Grade: C-



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