The Red Shoes (1948) – Painfully Obvious

Rating (2.5 out of 5)

Summary: “What Price Hollywood?” with dancing numbers and a tragic ending. An ending so heavily foreshadowed that even a kindergardner would have been able to guess the ending. The spoiler in “The Red Shoes” for me is I was genuinely interested in the first part of the movie, and they lost me.

Plot: Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) works hard to become a star ballerina, and evenetually she must make a choice, love or the ballet.

Detail: When Victoria and her future love Julian (Marius Goring) maneuver their way from students to masters, the movie is really engaging. There are two scenes jump to my mind. The first is when the master producer of ballets, Boris (Anton Walbrook) first talks to Victoria and insults her without knowing who she really was. The reveal to Boris was fun, and you knew their relationship would only grow from there.

Then we are treated to the sage advice Boris gives to Julian, I am paraphrasing, “It is better to have your work stolen from you than to be having to steal other peoples work.” A fabulous starting point for the rest of the film. Unfortunately, it was down hill from here.

Both Julian and Victoria are offered an opportunity in a new ballet, “The Red Shoes”, based on the Hans Christen Anderson story. As soon as you hear the story, you know how this movie will end. All the surprise is lost. But then we are treated to an abbreviated version of the ballet, with faces real people superimposed over the ballet characters. If I didn’t get it before, they whacked me across the face so I understood. Were audiences in 1948 stupid?

The dance scene lasted too long for me. The dances are graceful, and the ability of dancers always amazes. The director needs to decide, is “The Red Shoes” a ballet or a drama?

The best part of the movie was the ending. Not because I finally stopped watching this mess, but because it was tragic rather than happy. The ending would have been even better had the relationship between the “The Red Shoes” ballet and Victoria not been hammered into our skull. Subtlety is the key.