The Red Shoes


2h 14m 1948
The Red Shoes

Brief Synopsis

A young ballerina is torn between her art and her romance with a young composer.

Film Details

Also Known As
Las zapatillas rojas, Red Shoes
Genre
Romance
Drama
Dance
Musical
Release Date
1948
Location
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom; England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 14m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Tale of a famous ballerina who must choose between art and love.

Photo Collections

The Red Shoes - Academy Archives
Here are archive images from The Red Shoes (1948), courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Videos

Movie Clip

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Las zapatillas rojas, Red Shoes
Genre
Romance
Drama
Dance
Musical
Release Date
1948
Location
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom; England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 14m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Award Wins

Best Art Direction

1948

Best Score

1948

Award Nominations

Best Editing

1948
Reginald Mills

Best Picture

1948

Best Writing, Screenplay

1949
Emeric Pressburger

Articles

The Red Shoes


It may be the film that launched a million little girls' dreams of becoming a ballerina, but Michael Powell's groundbreaking dance fantasy, The Red Shoes (1948), originally seemed a risky undertaking. Powell and his erstwhile filmmaking partner, Emeric Pressburger, were dealing with a form of dance that tended to scare off the uninitiated, and they aimed to conclude their picture with a lengthy ballet sequence that ran without dialogue. The graceful movement of dance itself would, in effect, serve as the final movement of the narrative, and nobody was certain if such a concept would play properly on the big screen.

The story opens with Julian Craster (Marius Goring), a fledgling composer, realizing that his work has been stolen for the Lermontov Ballet's production of "Hearts of Fire." When Julian confronts the company's controlling director, Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook), Lermontov enlists him to score his next work, The Red Shoes. Unfortunately, Lermontov's star decides to get married, so he re-casts a beautiful young dancer named Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) in her role. The Red Shoes becomes a huge success, and Victoria is suddenly a star. When Julian and Victoria fall in love, Boris, who secretly pines for the young woman, kicks Julian out of the company. But Victoria chooses love over art, and leaves with him.

This will lead to another meeting between Victoria and Boris, and a frenetic final presentation of The Red Shoes. Simply calling the event that befalls poor Victoria melodramatic would be a vast understatement. But its cinematic grandeur is enough to bring out the 13-year-old girl in any viewer.

When The Red Shoes made its British debut, it failed to stir much excitement. Critics complained that it was way too long, the dialogue was repetitious, and the characters were cliched. There was also a rumor that Powell and Pressburger had gone so far over budget, the film threatened to sink its production company, The Rank Organization (this turned out to be untrue). When all was said and done, Powell and Pressburger seemed to have created little more than a highly inventive commercial failure...that is, until the film started playing in New York City.

For quite some time, no American distributor was interested in releasing The Red Shoes, seeing how it had fared so poorly in its homeland. But, when the picture was finally booked into Manhattan's Bijou Theater, it took off, playing there - and only there - for a staggering 110 weeks! Only then did Universal Pictures give it a broad release. All the good press worked wonders back in England, where the picture ultimately found an audience and became one of the highest grossing films in U.K. history. Too bad its young star wasn't concerned with its eventual success one way or the other.

Shearer was a ballerina who had been hand-selected by Powell to star in The Red Shoes, not that it was easy convincing her to do so. In an interview she gave years later, Shearer said she really wasn't all that interested in the job, even after she accepted it: "I fought against being in that film for a whole year, and (Powell) was so angry. He thought I would sort of fall at his feet and be absolutely thrilled at this great chance. I was just beginning to do the big classics at Covent Garden, which was every classical ballerina's dream, and I didn't want to be deflected by all this."

But Powell kept after Shearer until she relented, although she was eventually quite disenchanted with both Powell and the filmmaking process. "Michael Powell was obviously very keen about the ballet in an overall way," she said, "but he didn't know anything about it at all. He had these sort of grandiose, filmic ideas of putting every sort of eccentricity into every character and having everything going on at once." She particularly didn't care for Powell's handling of Leonide Massine, the real-life dancer-choreographer who plays a choreographer in the movie, claiming that Powell had the normally dignified Massine "behaving like a mad jumping bean." She also complained that the dancers were treated disrespectfully during filming, with their routines being full of fitful starts and stops that often made it physically impossible to meet Powell's exacting demands.

Shearer never found another role to utilize her unique talents (with the possible exception of The Tales of Hoffman, 1951), even though many were offered including, rather bizarrely, a role opposite Charlton Heston in El Cid (1961). But her work in The Red Shoes, both as an actress and a dancer of the highest order, remains a sight to behold.

Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Screenplay: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger and Keith Winter (inspired by a story by Hans Christian Anndersen)
Producers: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Cinematography: Jack Cardiff
Editor: Reginald Mills
Music Composer: Brian Easdale
Music Director: Sir Thomas Beecham
Art Director/Costume Design: Hein Heckroth
Choreography: Robert Helpmann
Principal Cast: Anton Walbrook (Boris Lermontov), Moira Shearer (Victoria Page), Marius Goring (Julian Craster), Leonide Massine (Grischa Ljubov), Robert Helpmann (Ivan Boleslawsky), Albert Basserman (Sergei Ratov), Esmond Knight (Livy), Ludmilla Tcherina (Irina Boronkaja), Jean Short (Terry), Gordon Littmann (Ike), Julia Lang (Balletomane), Bill Shine (Her Mate), Austin Trevor (Prof. Palmer), Eric Berry (Dimitri), Irene Browne (Lady Neston).
C-134m. Closed Captioning.

by Paul Tatara
The Red Shoes

The Red Shoes

It may be the film that launched a million little girls' dreams of becoming a ballerina, but Michael Powell's groundbreaking dance fantasy, The Red Shoes (1948), originally seemed a risky undertaking. Powell and his erstwhile filmmaking partner, Emeric Pressburger, were dealing with a form of dance that tended to scare off the uninitiated, and they aimed to conclude their picture with a lengthy ballet sequence that ran without dialogue. The graceful movement of dance itself would, in effect, serve as the final movement of the narrative, and nobody was certain if such a concept would play properly on the big screen. The story opens with Julian Craster (Marius Goring), a fledgling composer, realizing that his work has been stolen for the Lermontov Ballet's production of "Hearts of Fire." When Julian confronts the company's controlling director, Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook), Lermontov enlists him to score his next work, The Red Shoes. Unfortunately, Lermontov's star decides to get married, so he re-casts a beautiful young dancer named Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) in her role. The Red Shoes becomes a huge success, and Victoria is suddenly a star. When Julian and Victoria fall in love, Boris, who secretly pines for the young woman, kicks Julian out of the company. But Victoria chooses love over art, and leaves with him. This will lead to another meeting between Victoria and Boris, and a frenetic final presentation of The Red Shoes. Simply calling the event that befalls poor Victoria melodramatic would be a vast understatement. But its cinematic grandeur is enough to bring out the 13-year-old girl in any viewer. When The Red Shoes made its British debut, it failed to stir much excitement. Critics complained that it was way too long, the dialogue was repetitious, and the characters were cliched. There was also a rumor that Powell and Pressburger had gone so far over budget, the film threatened to sink its production company, The Rank Organization (this turned out to be untrue). When all was said and done, Powell and Pressburger seemed to have created little more than a highly inventive commercial failure...that is, until the film started playing in New York City. For quite some time, no American distributor was interested in releasing The Red Shoes, seeing how it had fared so poorly in its homeland. But, when the picture was finally booked into Manhattan's Bijou Theater, it took off, playing there - and only there - for a staggering 110 weeks! Only then did Universal Pictures give it a broad release. All the good press worked wonders back in England, where the picture ultimately found an audience and became one of the highest grossing films in U.K. history. Too bad its young star wasn't concerned with its eventual success one way or the other. Shearer was a ballerina who had been hand-selected by Powell to star in The Red Shoes, not that it was easy convincing her to do so. In an interview she gave years later, Shearer said she really wasn't all that interested in the job, even after she accepted it: "I fought against being in that film for a whole year, and (Powell) was so angry. He thought I would sort of fall at his feet and be absolutely thrilled at this great chance. I was just beginning to do the big classics at Covent Garden, which was every classical ballerina's dream, and I didn't want to be deflected by all this." But Powell kept after Shearer until she relented, although she was eventually quite disenchanted with both Powell and the filmmaking process. "Michael Powell was obviously very keen about the ballet in an overall way," she said, "but he didn't know anything about it at all. He had these sort of grandiose, filmic ideas of putting every sort of eccentricity into every character and having everything going on at once." She particularly didn't care for Powell's handling of Leonide Massine, the real-life dancer-choreographer who plays a choreographer in the movie, claiming that Powell had the normally dignified Massine "behaving like a mad jumping bean." She also complained that the dancers were treated disrespectfully during filming, with their routines being full of fitful starts and stops that often made it physically impossible to meet Powell's exacting demands. Shearer never found another role to utilize her unique talents (with the possible exception of The Tales of Hoffman, 1951), even though many were offered including, rather bizarrely, a role opposite Charlton Heston in El Cid (1961). But her work in The Red Shoes, both as an actress and a dancer of the highest order, remains a sight to behold. Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger Screenplay: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger and Keith Winter (inspired by a story by Hans Christian Anndersen) Producers: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger Cinematography: Jack Cardiff Editor: Reginald Mills Music Composer: Brian Easdale Music Director: Sir Thomas Beecham Art Director/Costume Design: Hein Heckroth Choreography: Robert Helpmann Principal Cast: Anton Walbrook (Boris Lermontov), Moira Shearer (Victoria Page), Marius Goring (Julian Craster), Leonide Massine (Grischa Ljubov), Robert Helpmann (Ivan Boleslawsky), Albert Basserman (Sergei Ratov), Esmond Knight (Livy), Ludmilla Tcherina (Irina Boronkaja), Jean Short (Terry), Gordon Littmann (Ike), Julia Lang (Balletomane), Bill Shine (Her Mate), Austin Trevor (Prof. Palmer), Eric Berry (Dimitri), Irene Browne (Lady Neston). C-134m. Closed Captioning. by Paul Tatara

Moira Shearer (1926-2006)


Her contributions to film may have been brief, but for at least one film, Michael Powell's dance opus The Red Shoes (1948), this elegant, gorgeous redhead became a film icon for her balletic performance. Sadly, that actress, Moira Shearer, died on January 31 in Oxford, England of natural causes. She was 80.

Born Moira Shearer King on January 17, 1926 in Dunfermline, Scotland. Her father, an engineer, moved the family to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), where she was pushed into dance lessons by her mother. After the family returned to Scotland, she received lessons from the legendary Russian dance teacher Nikolai Legat. When she was just 16 she joined the Sadler's Wells Ballet and made her big national debut at 20 as Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House in London.

In 1948, Powell and co-director Emeric Pressburger cast Shearer in the title role of Victoria Page, the young ballerina who sacrifices all for her career. The plot might have been a touch old fashioned, but the glorious technicolor and Robert Helpmann's florid, dazzling choreography, made this film as exciting on both sides of the Atlantic; and Shearer, complete with lucid beauty and captivating movements, a star.

After the film, Shearer returned to ballet, and following a brief U.S. tour in 1950, she made her second film, again for Powell in The Tales of Hoffmann (1951). A few more movies followed, The Story of Three Loves (1953), The Man Who Loved Redheads (1955), and a third film for Powell, the notorious Peeping Tom (1960), where she meets a grisly death at the hands of a psychotic photographer (Karl Boehm). Shearer concentrated on stage work afterwards before retiring to raise a family. She is survived by her husband of 56 years, Ludovic Kennedy; a son, Alastair; and daughters, Ailsa, Rachel, and Fiona.

by Michael T. Toole

Moira Shearer (1926-2006)

Her contributions to film may have been brief, but for at least one film, Michael Powell's dance opus The Red Shoes (1948), this elegant, gorgeous redhead became a film icon for her balletic performance. Sadly, that actress, Moira Shearer, died on January 31 in Oxford, England of natural causes. She was 80. Born Moira Shearer King on January 17, 1926 in Dunfermline, Scotland. Her father, an engineer, moved the family to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), where she was pushed into dance lessons by her mother. After the family returned to Scotland, she received lessons from the legendary Russian dance teacher Nikolai Legat. When she was just 16 she joined the Sadler's Wells Ballet and made her big national debut at 20 as Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House in London. In 1948, Powell and co-director Emeric Pressburger cast Shearer in the title role of Victoria Page, the young ballerina who sacrifices all for her career. The plot might have been a touch old fashioned, but the glorious technicolor and Robert Helpmann's florid, dazzling choreography, made this film as exciting on both sides of the Atlantic; and Shearer, complete with lucid beauty and captivating movements, a star. After the film, Shearer returned to ballet, and following a brief U.S. tour in 1950, she made her second film, again for Powell in The Tales of Hoffmann (1951). A few more movies followed, The Story of Three Loves (1953), The Man Who Loved Redheads (1955), and a third film for Powell, the notorious Peeping Tom (1960), where she meets a grisly death at the hands of a psychotic photographer (Karl Boehm). Shearer concentrated on stage work afterwards before retiring to raise a family. She is survived by her husband of 56 years, Ludovic Kennedy; a son, Alastair; and daughters, Ailsa, Rachel, and Fiona. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

You're a magician Boris. To have produced all this in three weeks, and from nothing.
- Livingstone 'Livy' Montagne
My dear Livy, 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.
- Boris Lermontov
Don't forget, a great impression of simplicity can only be achieved by great agony of body and spirit.
- Boris Lermontov
"The Ballet of The Red Shoes" is from a fairy tale by Hans Andersen. It is the story of a young girl who is devoured with an ambition to attend a dance in a pair of Red Shoes. She gets the shoes and goes to the dance. For a time, all goes well and she is very happy. At the end of the evening she is tired and wants to go home, but the Red Shoes are not tired. In fact, the Red Shoes are never tired. They dance her out into the street, they dance her over the mountains and valleys, through fields and forests, through night and day. Time rushes by, love rushes by, life rushes by but the Red Shoes go on.
- Boris Lermontov
What happens in the end?
- Julian Craster
Oh, in the end, she dies.
- Boris Lermontov
How would you define ballet, Lady Neston?
- Boris Lermontov
Well, one might call it the poetry of motion perhaps, or ...
- Lady Neston
One might. But for me it is a great deal more. For me it is a religion. And one doesn't really care to see one's religion practised in an atmosphere ... such as this.
- Boris Lermontov
Why do you want to dance?
- Boris Lermontov
Why do you want to live?
- Victoria Page
Well I don't know exactly why, er, but I must.
- Boris Lermontov
That's my answer too.
- Victoria Page

Trivia

The exterior of The Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate was shown in the rain because 'Powell, Michael' had often gone there to see plays or the ballet and he reminisced "it always seemed to be raining when one queued up for Madame Rambert's productions".

The 15 min (approx) Ballet of the Red Shoes used a corps de ballet of 53 dancers.

This film is 9th in the "BFI 100", a list of a hundred of 'the best British films ever' compiled by the British Film Institute in 1999/2000.

Miscellaneous Notes

The Red Shoes. Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Film Foundation, HFPA and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation

Released in United States 1990

Released in United States July 2000

Released in United States March 1985

Re-released in United States December 29, 1993

Re-released in United States on Video September 12, 1995

Re-released in United States on Video September 24, 1996

Shown at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival July 5-15, 2000.

Released in United States March 1985 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Fabulous Fifty-Hour Filmex Fantasy Marathon) March 14-31, 1985.)

Released in United States March 1985 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Fabulous Fifty-Hour Filmex Fantasy Marathon) March 14-31, 1985.)

Released in United States July 2000 (Shown at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival July 5-15, 2000.)

Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival (Technicolor Classics) April 30 - May 13, 1990.

Released in United States 1990 (Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival (Technicolor Classics) April 30 - May 13, 1990.)

Re-released in United States on Video September 12, 1995

Re-released in United States on Video September 24, 1996

Re-released in United States December 29, 1993 (Film Forum; New York City)