Quick Recap: Victoria Page is an aspiring ballet dancer who is discovered by Boris Lermontov, owner of a ballet company. After his main ballerina quits to get married he invests all of his time and energy into Page. He first casts her as the lead role in ‘The Red Shoes’, a ballet based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale. It is so well received that Lermontov casts her in all lead roles. She instantly becomes famous. Things sour when Page falls in the love with the company’s composer. She must now choose between a life of dancing or following the man she has fallen in love with.
Fun (?) Fact: I couldn’t find much in the way of interesting tidbits so instead, I’ll do a quick synopsis of the fairy tale, ‘The Red Shoes’- a girl sees a pair of red shoes in the shoemaker’s window and purchases them. She and her boyfriend go to a carnival where she enjoys herself. She becomes tired but realizes the shoes are possessed and she can’t take them off. She continues to dance, becoming more exhausted. She dances for years on end, until she finally dies. I highly suggest reading this heartwarming tale to your child before bedtime.
My thoughts: I’m not a fan of the ballet. I had a mild interest when ‘Black Swan’ came out, but I knew that seeing a performance would be anti-climatic. I do love all kinds of music and I generally love live performances, but there is just something about ballet that seems like a completely different world. The same can be said about my thoughts on opera, although that’s for a different post. I write all this to say that I had very low expectations for this movie. I really had to psyche myself up to get ready to watch it. The movie started off slow, introducing so many characters that I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to invest my attention in. And honestly I was pretty bored. It seemed that this movie would be yet another case for how crazy and uptight ballet dancers can be. I get it. They are intense people. It seems every dancing movie loves this trope. But then I became hooked on the actual ‘Red Shoe’s’ performance. For the first time, I was watching ballet and feeling real emotions. Moira Shearer, who played Victoria Page, does a perfect job of telling this story within a story. I was amazed how the director chose to show the ballet as the audience was supposed to and then what Page had in her mind. It was beautiful. I wasn’t surprised to learn that this movie was considered to have some of the best uses of color for its time. As the story continued, I got to see Page’s relationship with the composer, Julian Crastor, develop. Lermontov was jealous but not because he was in love with Page. It was more than that. To him, Page falling in love and getting married was a death sentence for her career. At the movie’s end, Page returns to Lermentov, who convinces her to play the lead role in ‘The Red Shoes’ one more time. No one has done it since her and no one can do it better. She agrees, although she knows that her husband would disapprove. In the movie’s most climactic scene, Page must choose between her love of dancing and her husband. In a split second, she chooses dancing, and her husband leaves. As she prepares to start the performance, she realizes what she has done and, with the red shoes on, jumps to her death off of a balcony. The absolute best scene of the movie is at the end. Knowing that Page is dead, Lermentov makes a decision to continue on with the performance. In Page’s place is an empty spotlight that moves around, just as she would’ve done. The red shoes are left on stage.
It is truly one of the most heartbreaking and emotional scenes I have witnessed in a movie. I was taken aback by how powerful such simplicity could be.
Final review: 5/5. I generally make it a point to wait a while before posting a review so that I can gather my thoughts. I’m so glad I did that because when I finished the movie last night, I was still ‘meh’ about the whole thing. But after a night full of nightmares related to the story,I knew how important this film really is. Yes, it’s ballet but I promise, it is a necessity to watch.
Where I watched it: Netflix
Up Next: A Hard Day’s Night. Considering my son’s middle name comes from a Beatle’s song, I’d say I’m excited to watch.