Red Shoes

10 ratings (10 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Excellent
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Michael Powell's Classic The Red Shoes

Apr 29, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Action Factor:
  • Special Effects:
  • Suspense:

Pros:Thoughtful. Wonderfully made. Very Unique.

Cons:Well, I'm not a big ballet fan... this movie makes it look good, though.

The Bottom Line: It does everything that it tries to do perfectly. It's a "must see" for true movie fans.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

The Red Shoes is two parts movie and one part fairy tale. This is as it should be. If the movie dabbled any more in reality, it would be a bore. If it pressed its limits of fairy tale any more, it would be unbelievable. For what The Red Shoes attempts to do, it does it perfectly.

It’s a movie about your dreams coming true. It’s a movie about ballet. And, it’s a movie about obsession.

The story follows two young people whose careers seem to build at the same time. They both get unexpected opportunities to work with the famous producers. Then, they both gain their popularity at the same time. One is discovering his greatness in conducting and the other is discovering her greatness in the ballet.

Like any great movie, the plot is not what makes this movie exceptional. This movie stands out because it attempts to be nothing but what it is. It never tries to be another movie. It’s almost as if the directors and producers chiseled away everything that wasn’t The Red Shoes. They were left with a fine movie.

I’ll try to explain. The problem with most movies today is that they don’t ask: “What should this movie be?”. Instead, they ask: “What do people want our movie to be?”. Instead of chiseling away everything that keeps their movie from being unique, they stick a good idea into their movie machine and out comes a conglomeration of cluttered thought and unoriginality. I’ll give one example.

Perhaps the greatest scene in the movie comes a little over halfway through. The two main characters, the conductor and the ballerina, are ready to make their big break. It’s the opening night for a ballet of Hans Christian Andersons’ The Red Shoes. What happens is truly a beautiful scene. The movie takes nearly 15 minutes (that’s a guess) to show the progression of this dance. Instead of showing us documentary footage of a ballet, we enter the ballerina’s mind and we see what she sees and imagines. She sees the red shoes appear on her feet and she dances with newspapers that turn into people; it’s a wonderful moment in the movie.

What would have happened if the scene were shot today? First, there’s no possible way the scene would be as long as it was. Think what a huge mistake that would be. How can a movie about ballet; not just ballet, but a movie about the beauty and soul of ballet be too embarrassed to give the dance a chunk of time? Why bother making the movie?

Secondly, the fantasy of the scene would have been ruined? Why? Because it was perfect the way it was; there was the feel of another world, but you still remembered you were on the stage of a ballet. Today, the special effects budget would have taken us on a fantastic voyage to the mountains and flown us through the air and we would end up once again shying away from what the movie is about, which is ballet.

It’s an incredible difficult thing to do what this scene does, but in my opinion it is done perfectly and causes this movie to be lifted up to another level of greatness.

There are many other things I love about this movie. Some would give away too much of the story for my conscience to allow (like how everything is drawn to a close). Other things I don’t think my words could do justice (like the quick cuts by the editors and the attractiveness of the colors on DVD). If you haven’t seen this movie and you’re a fan of the cinema, drop everything, get the Criterion Collection version of this movie and watch it. You surely will not be disappointed. It’s a treat seeing this world so similar to the one we know, but where the rules aren’t quite the same. Like I said, it’s two parts movie and one part fairy-tale. Enjoy your two-hour visit.


Recommend this product? Yes


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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