CLASSICS FOR KIDS AND THEIR FAMILIES: THE RED SHOES (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948)
209 West Houston St.
Sunday, June 8, $7.50, 11:00 am
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Red Shoes is a lush, gorgeous examination of the creative process and living — and dying — for one’s art. Sadler’s Wells dancer Moira Shearer stars as Victoria Page, a young socialite who dreams of becoming a successful ballerina. She is brought to the attention of ballet master Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) and soon is a member of his famed company. Meanwhile, composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring), whose music was stolen by his professor and used in a Lermontov ballet, also joins the company, as chorus master. As Vicky and Julian’s roles grow, so does their affection for each other, with a jealous Lermontov seething in between. Inspired by Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, The Red Shoes is a masterful behind-the-scenes depiction of the world of dance, highlighted by the dazzlingly surreal title ballet, which mimics the narrative of the central plot. Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, the fifteen-minute ballet takes viewers into a completely different fantasy realm, using such cinematic devices as jump cuts and superimposition as the drama unfolds well beyond the limits of the stage. To increase the believability of the story and make sure the dance scenes were effective, Powell and Pressburger enlisted players from the international dance community; the film’s cast includes Russian choreographer and dancer Léonide Massine as Lermontov choreographer Grischa Ljubov, French prima ballerina Ludmilla Tchérina as Lermontov star Irina Boronskaja, and Australian dancer Robert Helpmann as Ivan Boleslawsky; Helpmann also served as the film’s choreographer.
Brian Easdale won an Oscar for his score, which ranges from sweet and lovely to dark and ominous, with an Academy Award also going to Hein Heckroth’s stunning art direction and Arthur Lawson’s fabulous set design. The film was photographed in glorious Technicolor by Jack Cardiff. Upon meeting Vicky, Lermontov asks, “Why do you want to dance?” to which she instantly responds, “Why do you want to live?” No mere ballet film, The Red Shoes is about so much more. The Red Shoes is screening June 8 at 11:00 am as part of the Film Forum Jr. series for kids and families, which continues June 15 with To Kill a Mockingbird and June 22 with Oklahoma!