Monday, March 4, 2013

Your Invitation to the Dance: The Red Shoes with Moira Shearer

YOUR INVITATION TO THE DANCE: THE RED SHOES WITH MOIRA SHEARER -- Yes, it's all so Old School -- and it drips with luscious Technicolor from start to finish! But if there was one movie that we at Studio of Style could sit down with you and watch together, it would be this one from 1948: The Red Shoes. Arguably the best dance movie (ballet, that is) ever made, it has never had an equal, try as some have done recently to bring classical dance to the big screen (and, of course, we always applaud and encourage that).  Though based on Danish author Hans Christian Anderson's popular story, the film is really more of a thinly-disguised story of the real-life relationship between Russian ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev (founder of the Ballets Russes) and British ballerina Diana Gould (who would later become the wife of violinist Yehudi Menuhin). It's rather quite easy to connect all the dots to see just how The Red Shoes and Diaghilev's worlds intersect. All this aside, one cannot -- and we repeat, cannot -- take their eyes off the enchanting Moira Shearer (i.e. Diana Gould) in the lead role as the determined Victoria Page who comes under the spell (or clutches) of Russian impresario Boris Lermontov (i.e. Diaghilev) -- played by the truly underrated Austrian Anton Walbrook who delivers the pitch-perfect performance of a cruel taskmaster with every deliberate spoken syllable and hand gesture (just watch him!).  Sumptuous color, scenery and costumes throughout, glimpes of vintange London, Paris and particularly Monte Carlo (that scene of Shearer in the blue gown ascending the staircase of the mansion high above the Mediterranean will send cinematic shivers up your spine).  The centerpiece of the film is the fantasy title dance sequence that transcends mere dance to become another art form altogether. It will spellbind you with Shearer's dancing as well as that of supporting cast members Leonide Massine and Robert Helpmann (who were both big stars in ballet at the time) and so many more talents -- all under the immaculate direction and production of the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. A restored version of The Red Shoes (seven years in the making) made its debut at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival -- and it has been cited by many a filmmaker -- such as Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma -- as an all-time favorite. Oh, and it was ranked #9 on the British Film Institute's Top 100 British films of the 20th century. So, go on, just lose yourself some night in the colorful world of ballet from yesteryear -- accompanied by lots of ice cold champagne -- and let your spirits dance!