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The Red Shoes

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Director: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell Run Time: 133 min. Format: 35mm Rating: PG Release Year: 1948

Starring: Anton Walbrook, Jean Short, Marius Goring, Moira Shearer

Part of VICE Presents: The Film Foundation Screening Series at Nitehawk Cinema. In The Red Shoes a young ballerina must choose between the love of her art and the love of her life.

Containing a story within a story, Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes parallels the ambitions of a young ballerina with the narrative of the ballet she is performing (also called The Red Shoes based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale). Shown in one of the most stunning sequences in cinematic history, the ballet within the film features a young woman purchasing a pair of gleaming red ballet slippers that start her off on a beautiful dance but are ultimately destructive. The dancer, Victoria Page (played by Moira Shearer), also her own demons to confront; does she continue with the passion for her art or cease altogether for the love of a man? In both instances, there is only one way it can end.  

Boris Lermontov: Why do you want to dance?
Victoria Page: Why do you want to live?
Boris Lermontov: Well I don’t know exactly why, er, but I must.
Victoria Page: That’s my answer too.

Incorporating a risky material like ballet as the core subject matter and rumored to have gone way over budget, The Red Shoes was met with little fanfare until it debuted in New York and was distributed by Universal. After that, the British audiences got on board and it became one of the highest grossing films in UK history. And with good reason, it’s an artwork unto itself. Painfully beautiful and larger than life, The Red Shoes is a sincere representation of the difficulties one faces when melding art and life together. Pure magic.

*A portion of each ticket sale goes towards The Film Foundation. Tickets also include complimentary Larceny Bourbon drinks at an after-party in Nitehawk’s downstairs bar! 

THE RED SHOES (1948, dirs. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)
Restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in association with the BFI, The Film Foundation, ITV Global Entertainment Ltd., and Janus Films. Restoration funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, The Film Foundation, and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation.

Print courtesy of Park Circus Limited and The Film Foundation Conservation Collection at the Academy Film Archive.