"The Red Shoes" debated

From Forum With No Name:

ted fontenot: The Red Shoes is a fine movie. Maybe I was spoilt by Colonel Blimp and Black Narcissus, however. The movie is essentially Footlight Parade or 42nd Street with Walbrook in the Cagney/Baxter roles. Shearer was an extraordinarily striking presence and Walbrook was suitably a dark commanding one. Nevertheless, I felt the theme of the all-consuming nature of art was underdramatized. I never felt that Shearer was a "prisoner of rock 'n' roll". Indeed, we sort of have to take that for granted. We never see evidence of her mania after she marries and leaves the company. We're told about it. She was a truly naturally gorgeous creature, though, and the ballet justified itself if only in serving to accentuate that remarkable feature.

Apparently, TCM will not be running "I Know Where I'm Going", which stars Wendy Hiller and Livesey. There are damn few movies with the young Hiller and not nearly enough with Livesey, and from the comments on IMDB, this seems definitely worth seeing.

The Red Shoes didn't feel underdramatized, only just right--what sign there is of her obsession, of being under a spell, happens very quickly, and depends on Shearer's and Litvak's acting; think it works, myself (try showing it to young girls of 9 years and older...stuns them, every time). But I agree, Blimp is so much better.

I Know Where I'm Going is a lovely little film, much like The Edge of the World, only with a luminous Hiller performance in the center. Powell's early work is much underrated.

DH1: "The Red Shoes didn't feel underdramatized, only just right"

I have to agree. Besides Shearer, Anton Walbrook's performance is damn near mesmerizing. And the thing that was striking about the movie to me is that even though the use of colors and set design suggest the surreal, and even though Walbrook's character is larger than life, the performances are delivered in a non-scenery chewing style. The contrast between elements of the movie and the 'modern', more natural acting style was quite interesting.

ted fontenot: Walbrook's character's effect on Shearer's seems unrealized. Is he a Svengali? A Mephistophelean tempter? Just a shithead?

How about the shoes? Are they magical? That aspect never came to fruition. The magical aspect of the story seems almost an afterthought, then is forgotten, then comes back as if it is fairy tale talisman.

All three, I thought. The shoes I believe are just shoes--it's what her mind believes about them and what they symbolize (the need to dance) that matters. Powell gives us just one shot outside of the ballet that invests them with magical significance--where the shoes move backwards in the corridor, pulling her to the stairs, and her destiny. I think it's an image of the shoes that comes from her mind (what she thinks is happening to her feet at that moment in time), and it's an electrifying image.

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