44 The Red Shoes

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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david hare
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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#76 Post by david hare » Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:23 pm

eerik the one thing that is faultless on the ITV is the PCM audio track which sounds like it's lossless - the orchestral playing has that nice tight miked 40s sound for Mono 78rpms. THE DD audio track is - as I pointed out to Gary for the review out of synch by about half a second! But the 23 gig encode for this feature is barely an advance on ITV's 17 gig encode for Black Narcissus. (I also find the BN disc underwhelming, but I am not really mad about the level of color saturation on the print.) No wonder people are already successfuly doing Markovska rips/downloads of these things at under 8 gigs on DL AVCHD for 720p which still look great or at least not much below the 1080p originals.

I agree the lossless mono audios on the Crits I've bought so far are astonishing - I have the good fortune to be playing all this back through audiophile quality amp and preamp (Audiolap M and P) and out of Monitor Audio STudio 20 speakers. (he said blushingly.)

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Person
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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#77 Post by Person » Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:20 pm

Without Powell and Pressburger films, the 20th Century would have been a mistake.

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david hare
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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#78 Post by david hare » Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:07 am

Truer words never said! But what the fuck are we doing with the 21st?

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Antoine Doinel
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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#79 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:39 am

Here is the BluRay.com review of the ITV disc with screenshots. Holy Christ this looks good.

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TheGodfather
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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#80 Post by TheGodfather » Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:35 pm

I watched the ITV blu-ray today (the first time I watched the film as well) and absolutely loved it. I was blown away by the picture quality, the ballet scene with this picture quality was one of the most gorgeous things I`ve ever seen.
I noticed on the end credits was that Janus Films and Peter Becker were mentioned in the thank-you`s. Would this suggest that we can expect a Criterion blu-ray in the (near) future?

After seeing this, I`m gonna have to get the blu-ray of Black Narcissus

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Matt
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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#81 Post by Matt » Sun Aug 02, 2009 12:08 pm

TheGodfather wrote:Would this suggest that we can expect a Criterion blu-ray in the (near) future?
Asked and answered two months ago. I'd expect that we'd get it in December, unless Janus does a limited theatrical release.

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#82 Post by Adam » Sun Aug 02, 2009 12:09 pm

I went to the North American theatrical premiere screening of the film at the DGA in Los Angeles last week. It was then playing at the UCLA Film & TV Archive for a few days.
It was really gorgeous. Preservation largely paid for by the Hollywood Foreign Press - the Golden Globes are good for something!
The president of the Hollywood Foreign press and Curtis Hanson made introductory comments in person, and there was a short videotaped intro by Martin Scorsese, which could easily be used on any video. They said that Scorsese and Schoonmaker couldn't make it because they are busy editing his new film. But mot interesting was a short illustrated intro by Bob Gitt of the UCLA Film & TV Archive, who oversaw the restoration. This included examples of elements that they received and worked from. The original technicolor elements (3 strips of b&w film) were apparently covered with mold, which had to be painstakingly cleaned by hand. They decided that the film would have to be restored in the digital domain, so it was scanned at 4K. He showed some before and after of damaged sections and cleaned up sections. After it was completed in the digital realm, they made at least one 35mm print, since that is what we viewed.

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Person
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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#83 Post by Person » Sun Aug 02, 2009 12:59 pm

I'd love to see a 'before and after' restoration featurette on the Criterion edition.

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#84 Post by HistoryProf » Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:55 am

Antoine Doinel wrote:Here is the BluRay.com review of the ITV disc with screenshots. Holy Christ this looks good.
Holy Shit. honestly...that's all I can say about those screen caps. Holy. Shit. so this is coming to CC right? has to...right? the link and associated comments above are as clear as mud.

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Matt
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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#85 Post by Matt » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:07 pm


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HerrSchreck
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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#86 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:29 pm

Courtesy of the thoughtful good graces of our man MorganCreek, my old lady & I were put on the list to see the NYC premiere of the 4k resto at the Director's Guild Theatre. All the principals who got this restoration moving-- Scorsese, Schoonmaker, Woody Allen & Alec Baldwin-- were on hand. Thelma S. went through the restoration demonstration with before-after sequences that illustrated general cleanup/mold removal on the original three neg strips, contending with shrinkage and resulting 'fringing', color breathing, et cetera. When she was finished Scorsese got up and spoke for a bit about the film's aesthetics, his own history-- long love affair, really--with the film beginning with his viewing of Red Shoes with his father in the cinema in 1950, and moving on to the nature of P&P's mastery in this title... the tempo, the cutting, movement within the frame, movement of the camera, the high regard for the film's deep aesthetic and overall registry in the mind as a piece of music (a regard having nothing to do with the fact that the film features musical sequences).

More rather it's the great majesty of its assembly in the Overall and while moving along moment by moment in the technical and emotional current of its structure that makes it so musical. It's architecture is assembled-- it's editing, its movement, it's depth of feeling and multitude of statements about so many things as well as the grand statement that the film's own existence constitutes-- with the affecting soul of a great piece of music. The fashion by which themes are introduced, developed, added to, restated with modulation, punctuated, its symbol order, the tour de force nature of the gathering inevitability of its conclusion.. the confidence and raw power with which it all is assembled, it's absolutely overwhelming when viewed in this premiere quality print. It was truly one of the most murderously powerful cinematic experiences I've had in my life. I sat there gulping in awe.

Was there ever a movie about Love created by a director who so completely understood the phenomenon? Love for life, love for art, love for another, love for one's self, love for work, the difference between love felt by the young and hopeful and untainted, and the love felt by those further along in years grown jaded, who've seen its cycles rise and fall in and out of their own lives and the lives of others, and perhaps thru the bitter regarding of it as a youthful novelty for years after inevitable disappointments, finding one's self coming apart at the seams via the unexpected disposition of being smitten yet again, pride and stoical facade be damned....

One of the most romantic scenes in the world, so much more visually communicative when viewed on the big screen and in this fully restored state: the carriage ride, not exactly sure where, "somewhere along the Mediterranian in a carriage," (paraphrasing), with the undercurrent of great melancholy in the romantic statement by Craster as he projects himself decades into the future and looks back on the ride: "When I'm an old man and I'm asked What was the happiest time of my life? I'll answer somewhere along the Medi.." and he goes on to speak wistfully and with that magnificent touch of sadness about how, back then on that carriage ride, Vicky was still very young and innocent and loved him very truly and sincerely... the statement seems to presuppose a sort of 'maturing out' of the relationship on Vicky's part would be ultimately inevitable, that her love would die out or grow pragmatic and lose it's romance in time. That she would perhaps "wake up" and fall out of love with him-- the sadness of course is in what he doesn't realize: that the tug of war between his and Lermontov's love for Vicky, ratcheted up by the deathless need within the girl to dance, will ultimately kill her. So it's not time and the fading effect that it has on love that will steal Vicky, but the fact of her own inner passion riccocheting off of the desire of two men to posess her... how appropriate that her body is torn by a speeding steam train. That foreknowledge, when watching the film again-- a foreknowledge impossible upon the first viewing-- lends a great melancholic beauty to the scene, a mood that's beautifully punctuated by the restored image, which reveals a soft dreaminess to the shots, a nocturnal beauty that's almost indeed, like a priceless Perfect Night, too good to be true. The scene is visually rendered the way your fondest memories look in your mind's-eye after nostalgia and sentiment has sweetened them over the years.

Who could watch The Red Shoes and first and foremost not want to be any of those characters onscreen, to live any of those seemingly satisfying lives, so full of comraderie, working hard together, sweating together, grinding teeth together, laughing, joking, growing painfully and panicking, travelling, doing exactly what it is they always dreamed of doing in life, and with the satisfaction of great success? Who wouldn't want to belong to a second family like that, so tightly knit? Who wouldn't mind being the great impressario Lermontov, so dapper, dashing, cunning, pursued by high society, the press, fine artists, being waited upon and boarding in stone mansions on the Riviera, his inner-loneliness be damned? There really aren't any true Bad Guys in the film, which is what makes it such a genuine love letter from P&P to the arts, to the process of making films, to the simple self-awareness of their own happiness in being artists, doing what they do. Few movies love their characters so openly and fully, and even fewer love themselves-- the film that the film is-- as much as The Red Shoes revels in itself, in it's ingenuity. It's damn near compound algebraic: in it's portrayal and celebration of ingenious artists, the film is more ingenious than the artists it portrays, for it performs a ballet that is a masterwork, but one that could never be rendered on a stage, it's a world within a world, and therefore the film is a celebration on behalf of its creators of their creations and the sheer joy in the rarest ability they had at that time to realize their cinematic dreams, ever-inventive, so fully. It fully and completely breathes life into the working world of brilliant dancers, musicians, composers and directors-- there they are working out, practicing, working out their chops, talking, sweating, chucking towels, adjusting lights, murmurs hushing when attention is called: yet behind the camera there is another set of dancers, composers, directors, working in the medium of dance AND film.

The Red SHoes really is one of those rarest aesthetic examples: not just a genre unto itself, but damn near an art form unto itself. A rhapsody to the creative process, to being in the creative process, to living breathing and loving, and a rhapsody to rhapsodizing, to loving that life, to being able to live it to the fullest, a salute to those who live it beyond the usual level of a working artist... it's a hymn to those who are completely consumed, who need it and live it and breathe it, who go crazy for it and with it, and would go mad without it. It's really that madness, rendered almost Caligari-like in the central Red Shoes ballet sequence, and the love and the desire to be consumed by (and a grateful tribute to those in the audience who not only respond to but need that madness to make their ordinary lives more liveable) that madness, that's the core and ceter of the film itself.

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#87 Post by Particle Zoo » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:45 pm

^
Thank you HerrSchreck, posts like yours are the reason I lurk so often on this forum. I look forward to seeing the Red Shoes on the big screen at Xmas, when it finally wends its way to my sleepy part of the world.

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#88 Post by starmanof51 » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:48 pm

Thanks for that, Schreck. This film exists near the epicenter of my love for P&P, and you've delineated why far better than I could. Obviously quite a movie lover's night you had there, and good on you.

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#89 Post by david hare » Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:57 pm

Schreck, it sounds like you've embarked on the beginning of a life long love affair. This is a movie you genuinely will live with. So much to say about it, but among other things the amazing circularity of influences to and from Powell which float around, like the Expresssionists roots of his early days with Ingram, not only in the ballet but tellingly in the late domestic, post-marriage scene - miraculous mise en scene in which both Vicki and Craster are compelled to creep out of each others company and back into thier private worlds of art. The travellings and lighting in this sequence are breathtakingly stunning. As for the ballet itself, what a debt Powell owed to Helpmann - a generally ignored, even disliked figure in the movie business. His own choroegaphy for the ballet is completely at one with Powell's world within a world conception, and - whether Powell or Helpmann or Junge - how about the central netherworld sequnece with Vicki eemerging from a wall into the land of the dead - hello Cocteau two years later! The circularity here is the clear influence MInelli must have had on Powell with his short/extended dance scenes in Ziegfeld Follies (particularly Limehouse Blues) and the Pirate, the the outrageously brilliant extension Powell applied to through composed dramatic dance which, in turn Minelli and Kelly re-iterate (to almost the exact same length) in the American in Paris ballet.

Perhaps you can see why I named our last furry family member Boris - after the sublime Walbrook. His perf here is only rivalled by his General in Blimp, and Max's staggeringly beautiful La Ronde - but with even more of Anton in the long (non Marcel approved) cut.

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#90 Post by Tribe » Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:30 pm

It's because of posts like Schrek's that it might not be a bad idea to have some button on individual posts indicating a thank or a thumbs up. Fantastic review!

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#91 Post by Sloper » Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:14 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:One of the most romantic scenes in the world, so much more visually communicative when viewed on the big screen and in this fully restored state: the carriage ride, not exactly sure where, "somewhere along the Mediterranian in a carriage," (paraphrasing), with the undercurrent of great melancholy in the romantic statement by Craster as he projects himself decades into the future and looks back on the ride
I do think that may be the most straightforwardly perfect scene in the film, and it must be amazing to see the shimmering sea on a big screen. Somehow it's a relief from all the brightness and colour, and I suppose that's the point - I think it's the bit where Vicky and Kraster are missing Lermontov's party, taking a break from all the loud, technicolor glory. It's so moving because the film so rarely stops to linger over the romantic (in the conventional sense of the word) aspect of the story, and even here Kraster has to rein in Vicky's impatience (if I remember rightly). And somehow, their faces look more human in the carriage, bathed in moonlight - sort of freckly and imperfect.
HerrSchreck wrote:with the affecting soul of a great piece of music.
It might seem like heresy, but my favourite aspect of the film is actually the music - Easdale must have faced a real challenge accompanying visuals like this, but he rises to it brilliantly. His score has exactly that quality of unashamed (and fully earned) grandeur and self-importance, and sheer love of the creative process, that Schreck just paid homage to so well. Maybe it's because the opening scene focuses on the music - and the composer's pain at having this music stolen from him - but it always seems to me that it's the music that really holds the film together, which I guess is what film music should always do.

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#92 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:46 pm

Damn, now I'm afraid to ask how the restored film looked. The recollection of its grandeur might kill him if this valentine is any indication! Thanks for sharing your appreciation here, HS.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#93 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:11 pm

david hare wrote:Schreck, it sounds like you've embarked on the beginning of a life long love affair. This is a movie you genuinely will live with. So much to say about it, but among other things the amazing circularity of influences to and from Powell which float around, like the Expresssionists roots of his early days with Ingram, not only in the ballet but tellingly in the late domestic, post-marriage scene - miraculous mise en scene in which both Vicki and Craster are compelled to creep out of each others company and back into thier private worlds of art. The travellings and lighting in this sequence are breathtakingly stunning. As for the ballet itself, what a debt Powell owed to Helpmann - a generally ignored, even disliked figure in the movie business. His own choroegaphy for the ballet is completely at one with Powell's world within a world conception, and - whether Powell or Helpmann or Junge - how about the central netherworld sequnece with Vicki eemerging from a wall into the land of the dead - hello Cocteau two years later! The circularity here is the clear influence MInelli must have had on Powell with his short/extended dance scenes in Ziegfeld Follies (particularly Limehouse Blues) and the Pirate, the the outrageously brilliant extension Powell applied to through composed dramatic dance which, in turn Minelli and Kelly re-iterate (to almost the exact same length) in the American in Paris ballet.

Perhaps you can see why I named our last furry family member Boris - after the sublime Walbrook. His perf here is only rivalled by his General in Blimp, and Max's staggeringly beautiful La Ronde - but with even more of Anton in the long (non Marcel approved) cut.
Beginning of a love affair? O how fortunate I would have been to have seen it in that premiere quality on the big screen for my very first viewing. I was smitten by the film for the first time when I was just a boy-- I caught it a few minutes into the beginning and never knew what the title was for years since there was no TV Guide laying around that week and it was on PBS. Like Last Metro it was another of those films that I asked everyone about "It's old and it features a lot of RED..." But as for Shoes I'd easily seen it ten or fifteen times prior to this screening, which was my first viewing on the big screen.

Love your brief description of the scene w Vicky & Craster slithering out of bed beyond the midnight hour to-- dare we call it-- "cheat" w their art. It has the air of infidelity to it, subtext bursting at the seams with a creeping mise en scene and dim lighting that certainly encourages the sense of emotional suspense. Flawlessly executed.

Jean Luc, the films image was fabulous-- I was noting privately to Morgan Creek that there is a scene that always sticks out for me and others, especially when viewed on the CC: the birthday party for Ljubov, where Lermontov first discovers the budding romance between Craster & Vicky. That scene was shot at nightttime w far less lighting than 99.99 of the rest of the film, which was shot either outdoors during the day (and with reflectors AND lights) or during a fully controlled indoor studio environment... and so one can see via the change in grain structure that a far faster film stock was used here. Folks tend to note the change and ask about it, i e 'Something feels different..", but in this restoration the film fit seamlessly fore and aft. The look and feel of 3 strip technicolor was fully maintained (and the dye transfer process was used for the prints) while still managing to pull the best of the corrective utilities that digital makes available to the restoration team.

And, to whet your whistles... according to Thelma and Marty-- Blimp is next on deck. (Roars of joy, hats fly into the air en masse.) What a treat that will be!

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#94 Post by Tommaso » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:36 pm

HerrSchreck wrote: And, to whet your whistles... according to Thelma and Marty-- Blimp is next on deck. (Roars of joy, hats fly into the air en masse.) What a treat that will be!
Oh well...indeed! Great news! Still, am I the only one who would rather have the chance to see "Pimpernel", "Rosalinda" (though it's not really good, I admit) and "Honeymoon" on disc first? Not to speak of "Bluebeard", of course, though apparently there are rights issues on this one.

david hare wrote:how about the central netherworld sequnece with Vicki eemerging from a wall into the land of the dead - hello Cocteau two years later! The circularity here is the clear influence MInelli must have had on Powell with his short/extended dance scenes in Ziegfeld Follies (particularly Limehouse Blues) and the Pirate
This is exactly what I was thinking when I rewatched the best moments of "Ziegfeld" some time ago (I really can't stand to watch it as a whole due to the jarring 'spoken comedy' bits, I'm afraid). Apart from 'Limehouse Blues', I was especially thinking of 'This heart of mine' with regard to a Powellian connection, though I can't tell you exactly why in particular. It must have had to do with the complete effortlessness, the elegance and style not only of the dance, but also of the sets and colours. Similar to the "Red Shoes"-ballet, this is one of the few dance sequences that constantly bring tears of joy to my eyes for its sheer beauty. Surely one of Fred's most sublime moments (along with 'Dancing in the dark' a few years later).

I'm not fully sure on the other hand whether Cocteau knew "The Red Shoes" though, given that the film wasn't very successful initially and only got its world-wide fame some two years later when it became popular in the US. At that time, "Orphée" had already been filmed, of course. However, the Monte Carlo staircase in "The Red Shoes" obviously references "La belle et la bete", as do the wind-blown curtains in "Black Narcissus". But Powell was always very good in incorporating other directors' visual ideas into his own work (think of some of the Veidt scenes in "Thief") without ever seeming derivative. Perhaps it all comes down to Powell, Minelli, and Cocteau being very kindred spirits at heart, and them coming up with similar solutions to similar artistic and spiritual problems. After all, what connects them is that they put their art (or art in general) at the very centre of their work and thinking.

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#95 Post by Morgan Creek » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:06 pm

I'll add my praise for the restoration to Herr S's - truly one of the memorable filmgoing experiences of my life, and I knew we were in for something special when, during the demo beforehand, the audience literally gasped at a before/after clip from Lady Neston's post-theater party. What struck me even more than the predictably brilliant work on the richly colored material was how exquisitely the darker scenes - Lermontov alone in his office, or in his hotel room before the mirror-smashing; the carriage ride along the corniche; the aforementioned bedroom sequence - were now rendered. Both the cool silver-blue and the warmer amber light had a velvety quality that was ravishing.

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#96 Post by david hare » Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:16 pm

Morgan, one of the innumerable beauties in color detail is the backs of the upholstered chairs in Lermontov's various suites. They are either blue or burgundy fabric and the contrasting woodgrain of the frames is superbly rendered on the Blu.

Lady Neston's party is memorable for the first bursts of acid-like secondary color in the guests' clothes - citric lemon, reds, blues etc. The care with which Cardiff and Powell have dressed people to evoke both the postwar London "drab" era (the student rush with the kids in their grays and browns and caramels) to the huge palette in the ballet... Cardiff was a genius....

Another thing this transfer brings out (and I dont even recall it from 35mm screenings decades ago) is the frequent use of daylight reflector spots - my favorite of course is the one that appears before Vicki, dressed in Turquoise evening gown and tiara as she walks up the stairs to the palazzo in Monte Carlo (or whatever it is.)

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Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#97 Post by Tribe » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:45 am

La Manohla speaks on The Red Shoes:
A Tragic Ballerina Dances Again, Her Shoes Now Redder Than Ever
By MANOHLA DARGIS

“Why do you want to dance?” barks the imperious ballet impresario Boris Lermontov in “The Red Shoes,” the 1948 masterpiece from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

“Why do you want to live?” answers the young ballerina, Victoria Page, her face pale and pure as cream. It’s a mad, beautiful line, yet she utters it so easily, without apparent effort or guile, that you know that she means it and that you’re meant to believe it too. She dances because she must, because there is no choice. She dances until the sweat beads on her brow, and the abyss opens. Mostly, she dances because she is a flame for art, blazing bright until she is snuffed out.

Widely deemed the most famous ballet film ever made, “The Red Shoes,” directed by Powell and written by Pressburger (officially sharing the credits), has been the inspiration for countless bleeding feet and soaring artistic passions since its release. It is likely to seduce yet new generations of seekers and true believers, some of whom will doubtless be practicing demi-pliés on the ticket line when the movie — recently restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive with help from Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation and several other groups — opens at Film Forum on Friday for a two-week run. This is essential viewing because even if you think you have seen the movie before its restoration, if you’re under 60, you probably haven’t seen it anywhere near its original Technicolor glory.

This born-again version of “The Red Shoes,” digitally resuscitated from battered prints and negatives, should surprise even those who have watched the fine Criterion DVD. A film like few others, made like few others — the Powell and Pressburger partnership remains sui generis — it reaches high and strikes its mark, at times improbably. It’s an insistently designed work of non-naturalism, daubed with startling, unreal, gaudy colors that seem to have been created to blast away the last traces of wartime drear. The colors in “The Red Shoes” don’t just exist, they also express. “Color and I are one,” the painter Paul Klee said. When watching “The Red Shoes,” it’s easy to imagine Powell saying the same. Instead, he said, “I am cinema.”

Loosely taken from the macabre Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, “The Red Shoes” follows Vicky (Moira Shearer, a real ballerina, making her film debut) from her first determined steps in the corps to stardom in Lermontov’s company. Partly based on the impresario of the Ballets Russes, Serge Diaghilev — with some Powell thrown in — and played with mesmerizing ferocity by the Viennese-born actor Anton Walbrook, Lermontov drives Vicky toward perfection, insisting that she sacrifice everything for art, even her heart. But she falls in love with Julian Craster (Marius Goring), the composer of the work that makes her a star, succumbing to him as she rehearses the ballet. Enraged by her supposed betrayal, Lermontov fires Julian, and Vicky quits, only to later and fatally return.

Vicky is caught between Julian, the selfish lover who wants her only for himself, and Lermontov, whose obsession with her appears to transcend the sexual, suggesting a kind of demonic possession. A suave number partial to sunglasses, Lermontov appears several times in and on trains belching clouds of smoke, an evocation of Vicky’s catastrophic final leap. (According to Powell, Ms. Shearer leapt without a double, landing on a mattress.) Until then, Vicky spins and spins and spins, her vertiginous journey visually echoed in the images of fans and a rotating record and, in one astonishing scene, a seemingly endless spiral staircase on which she flees the theater and its fantasies to head into the hard light of the real world.

“The ballet of ‘The Red Shoes,’ ” Lermontov explains to Julian early in the film, “is the story of a young girl who is devoured by an ambition to attend a dance in a pair of red shoes. She gets the shoes, goes to the dance. And first all goes well, and she’s very happy.” She tires, but: “The red shoes are never tired. They dance her out into the streets, they dance her over the mountains and valleys, through fields and forest, through night and day. Time rushes by, love rushes by, life rushes by, but the red shoes dance on.” Then what happens? Julian asks, not realizing that he’s asking for the end of his own story.

“Oh,” Lermontov says with a small wave of the hand. “In the end she dies.”

This is about as much exposition as Pressburger provides in a screenplay that, while richly embroidered with memorable, quotable lines (“Not even the best magician in the world can produce a rabbit out of a hat if there is not already a rabbit in the hat”), is a vehicle for cinema, not speeches. Indeed, several nondance scenes unfold without a word, as does the spectacular 15-minute ballet centerpiece. (The choreographer Robert Helpmann dances the part of the boy, while Léonide Massine, a Diaghilev protégé, makes a dazzling and suitably devilish cobbler.) Somewhat reminiscent of Busby Berkeley’s more fantastic dance numbers, the ballet doesn’t take place on a conventional, constricted stage, for the viewing pleasure of a clapping audience, but in a purely cinematic realm, complete with trick photography.

In this strange and violent dance, the theater’s walls melt away, and the barriers between Vicky and her character, between art and life, at which Lermontov has been steadily pounding, give way. That life and art are finally inseparable is a theme of the story, or perhaps its lesson. This refusal of barriers extends to the filmmaking itself, which draws on other arts — literature, painting, dance and music — and recombines them into cinema. That synthesis, in turn, is mirrored by the creative partnership of the two filmmakers, who, calling themselves the Archers, usually shared the credit “written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger,” an acknowledgment of the intimacy of their collaboration and shared vision.

A box office disappointment in Britain, where it was indifferently released by the producer J. Arthur Rank, “The Red Shoes” was a smash elsewhere, playing for two years in Manhattan. Not long ago I met a woman who said she watched it every week for a year when it opened in Los Angeles. She went on to dance with Arthur Freed’s unit at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, home to some of the most glorious film musicals not made by Powell and Pressburger. In his autobiography Powell writes that Gene Kelly repeatedly showed “The Red Shoes” to MGM executives before getting permission to make Vincente Minnelli’s “American in Paris” — an influence most evident in the long ballet Kelly dances in that film. Time rushes by. The red shoes dance on.

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Feego
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:30 pm
Location: Texas

Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#98 Post by Feego » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:35 pm

There's a brief mention of the theatrical release on Criterion's home page. Is there any definite indication that Criterion will eventually release this on Blu?

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swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#99 Post by swo17 » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:44 pm

They have hinted on Facebook that this will be coming at some point.

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jbeall
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 9:22 am
Location: Atlanta-ish

Re: 44 The Red Shoes

#100 Post by jbeall » Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:07 am


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