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Review: The Red Shoes

Watched The Red Shoes on FilmStruck. Golden Age cinema at its finest: sumptuous Technicolor photography, beautifully stylized studio sets, and performances so emotionally charged that they threaten to burst through the screen. 

As anyone who’s perused this blog for any length of time can probably guess, my favorite character was the villain, Boris Lermontov, an impresario possessed by perfectionism that borders on tyranny: he describes the theater in religious terms, views his prima ballerina’s marriage as evidence of a lack of devotion, and seems to consider the titular fairytale (in which a pair of enchanted slippers force the woman wearing them to literally dance herself to death) a happy one. Of course, in this case, he also happens to be the protagonist, as his fanatical actions drive the plot towards its tragic conclusion (it’s no coincidence that the movie neglects to tell the viewer that the romantic leads have fallen in love until it’s pointed out to him). For a production released in 1948, it’s a surprisingly complex study of human behavior; I can see why Martin Scorsese lists it among the films that have inspired his own work.

[Originally written December 26, 2017.]

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