Last time I encountered The Red Shoes for reviewing purposes, I said it wasn’t the best of the Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger movies. Seeing it again, I’m not so sure that it isn’t. In any case, I do think it’s the ultimate expression of their unique approach to film. Nothing that came after it is anywhere near it. (I’m sure some would argue for 1951’s The Tales of Hoffman, but I leave that to those who like the opera it comes from better than I do.) As an explosion of color, music, movement and editing (the editing is what makes their 1940s output seem so amazingly fresh and forward thinking), The Red Shoes is hard to beat. Right now, the film makes an interesting companion—or comparison—piece to last year’s Black Swan, which certainly owes both a stylistic and story debt to The Red Shoes. (That’s OK, since The Red Shoes owes something to Michael Curtiz’s 1931 film The Mad Genius—and all the films owe something to the very fact that Sergei Diaghilev existed in the first place.) The film is definitely one of those movies that deserves the term “an essential,” so if you’ve not seen it, here’s a chance.
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