16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
At least ten stars!,
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This review is from: The Red Shoes - Special Edition [DVD]  (DVD)This extraordinary movie has been watched all over the world throughout the sixty years since it was made. Probably no day passes without it being shown somewhere in the world. I doubt these statements are true of any other movie except, perhaps, 'Casablanca'. Moreover, many of the people that love it don't particularly like ballet. Some actively dislike classical ballet. How can this be?
It is so successful because the director pulls so many of the arts together in one construct, each and all of them to an unsurpassed standard. Dancers, musicians, composers, choreographers, actors, painters, stage designers, cinematographers, lighting designers, studio technicians - even producers! - all gave of their transcendental best to tell a universally well-loved, traditional folk-tale interpreted by one of the greatest storytellers ever, and to tell it as a ten-hankie love story.
Two artists in particular should be noted, as they often get left out, upstaged by the more obvious talents of Walbrook, Shearer and Massine, who each grab your attention whenever they are on screen.
First, and perhaps greatest of the lot, Jack Cardiff for his brilliant, innovative camera-work and Technicolor photography, especially because these were the early days of Technicolor and he, a hitherto unknown Brit cameraman, introduced, for the first time, a painterly eye which amazed the American Technicolor specialists. His extraordinary and innovative camerawork for the ballet within the film has never been equalled.
Second, Brian Easdale's music rarely gets proper credit, probably because the Red Shoes' sprightly theme is lifted directly from Elgar's 1901 'Cockaigne' overture. The music is no worse for that, as Easdale creates his own evocative variations with brilliant development and orchestration, precisely reflecting the style typical of contemporary ballet music in the first half of the 20th century. Exciting, emotional, highly rhythmic, eminently danceable ballet music, perfectly interpreting the subject.
Moira Shearer (a dancer at the peak of her powers on the classical ballet stage at the time) was famed for the unrivalled precision of her dancing. She not only entrances us with her talent and gorgeous combination of red hair and creamy skin, but, at a (much) lower level, reduced males to blubber with the shot of her pert bottom in little dance shorts as she walked towards the exercise barre. Wow!
Ignore the Amazon review - it is disgracefully irrelevant to this iconic movie. This is certainly the best movie about ballet ever made and by any standard one of the best movies of all time. Even if you do not like ballet, you must see it once. If you like ballet, you will see it many times.
I saw Red Shoes when it first came out in 1948, when I was a boy of sixteen and head-over-heels in love with my own real-life, beautiful ballet dancer!! Which is, of course, why I have seen it several times a year ever since, will continue to watch it until I make my own final exit, stage right, and will never accept any criticism of it whatsoever. Of course this movie is over the top - this is ART, for Heaven's sake! And that driven bastard Lermontov is, unfortunately, only too right. As he says in the movie - "NOTHING..matters..but..the..music." As I was to learn the hard way, human emotions ARE transitory, while art lives for ever. The human drama of how this plays out in the movie is what makes it a great film as well as the best ever film about ballet.
No real art gets made without enormous sacrifice. Ever
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 May 2009 11:05:02 BDT
Humpty Dumpty says:
Exceedingly good and well-written review. Well done and thanks!
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jul 2009 22:06:23 BDT
I am an admirer of your own many thoughtful film reviews and so am very flattered by your response to my emotional outburst! Thanks for your kind comment!
In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jul 2009 17:48:00 BDT
Humpty Dumpty says:
That's very kind of you, but I've yet to write one that matches the tone and spectacle of a great film as well as yours here does! I agree with you, this is a magnificent picture and you've done it full credit. I suppose you know that the new restored version has just been released? There's also a newly restored and released (today, as it happens) version of Max Ophuls' Lola Montes. If you haven't seen it, I think you'd enjoy it, especially in this release. Also the same director's b/w Letter from an Unknown Woman (Louis Jourdan and Joan Fontaine).
In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jul 2009 23:29:41 BDT
Yes, thank you, I did know about the new restoration. I bought a copy and updated my previous review accordingly. The colour and sound is a great improvement, so the new DVD is a treasure.
I did not know about the Lola Montes restoration and on your recommendation have ordered a copy. I remember being very keen on all Max Ophuls' movies after I first saw La Ronde as a teenager and liked it very much. I think it might have been the film that got me interested in French cinema, but it's too long ago to remember accurately. But after exposure to all those marvellous New Wave and 'films noirs' while living in France for a few years, I forgot about him. Now you have reminded me and I will have a great time checking them all out again!
Thanks once again for your kind words and useful recommendations. Good watching!
P.S. - I have an interesting contemporary recommendation for you - 'Ne le dis a personne', directed by Guillaume Canet. In colour, but very noir!
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