• Tobias Liberman

Review - The Red Shoes

The Red Shoes is a classic drama from 1948 about a young ballerina who is torn between her dedication to art, and her desire to love. The Red Shoes was written, directed, and produced by the duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (also known as “The Archers”). The film stars Moira Shearer (Vicky Page), Marius Goring (Julius Craster), and Adolf Wohlbrück (Boris Lermontov).

The Red Shoes has some of the most unique cinematography from the era, which should most likely be attributed to the cinematographer, Jack Cardiff, who was one of the first technicolor pioneers. He had previously collaborated with The Archers in A Matter of Life and Death and Black Narcissus. The reason why the cinematography looks so vibrant is because of the use of technicolor’s famous three-strip process, which meant that the camera with which The Red Shoes was shot had a beam splitter inside that simultaneously shot three different black and white strips. One of these was sensitive to green light, another sensitive to blue light, and the other sensitive to red light. These three were combined in post, giving the film a bright, oversaturated look that helped to set its magical tone.

The Red Shoes’ set and production design was done by German art director Hein Heckroth who drew over two hundred different production sketches, all of which went on to inspire the hand-painted sets used in the movie. The film has some incredibly surreal and extensive sets (which were all hand-drawn) and were clearly influenced by German expressionism. These sets (apart from being incredibly beautiful) are probably the main reason why the famous film looks so fantastical, and why it feels so magical.

Like most other films The Archers directed, The Red Shoes is filled with incredible performances. In my opinion, the best in the film is that of Moira Shearer, portraying the young ballerina Vicky Page. Moira Shearer’s career as a ballerina skyrocketed after the release of the film, which to me makes perfect sense, seeing as her ballet scenes are some of the best moments of the film. She does everything that is expected for a movie actress, a ballerina, and more. Simply put, Moira Shearer’s performance is delightful and is one of the many reasons why you should give this movie a watch.

And now, the last thing that I’d like to talk about in this review is the Oscar-winning score, which was composed by Brian Easdale. Easdale’s score is the driving force of the story, and the film would feel heartless without it. After all, The Red Shoes is a movie about ballet, and music is one of the primary elements of ballet.

Overall, The Red Shoes is a dynamic masterpiece. The movie has some of the most creative production value of all time, cinematography that’d make any other director of photography jealous, and one of the best scores of all time, all coming from under the steady direction of one of the best directorial duos known to man.

Here at The CinemaScope, we recommend this picture.


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