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The Red Shoes (1948)



Average Rating: 8.4/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 11,059

My Rating

Movie Info

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's influential musical tragedy set the stage for the climactic dance ballets that became a staple of the Arthur Freed-MGM musicals (An American in Paris, Singin' in the Rain and The Band Wagon) of the early 1950s. Hans Christian Andersen's tragic fairy tale forms the basis of this film about betrayal, love and art. The story begins as struggling composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring) attends a performance of the Lermontov Ballet Company and recognizes his

May 25, 1999

Eagle-Lion Films

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All Critics (48) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (47) | Rotten (1) | DVD (11)

The Red Shoes was shot in three-strip Technicolor, a process that's no longer used because of expense and technical complexity, but one that yielded some of the most spectacular images in cinema history.

October 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The greatest film about ballet ever made.

May 13, 2010 Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The shoes have never been redder. The color of passion that drenches the Technicolor world of The Red Shoes has been restored to its original luster.

March 2, 2010 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

No wonder Britain, still rationed in color, food, and feeling in the wake of an exhausting war, could not cope with what the movie proposed. Catch it here now, and you will not just be seeing an old film made new; you will have your vision restored.

February 1, 2010 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Blending impressionist art and expressionist film, blurring the barriers between theatre and cinema, body and camera, reality and dream, drawing equally on the avant-garde and the classical.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's ode to the agony and the ecstasy of dancing is still joyous and moving even if you watch it through filthy, cracked sunglasses.

November 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's marvelously acted, superbly written, and features outstanding choreography , unforgettable characters and hauntingly beautiful cinematography. It's a cinematic treat for movie lovers! Bon appetit!

April 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Geek Central
Film Geek Central

There are no words. As a film critic, I can't really get away with that too often. This feels like a worthy deployment.

August 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Quickflix

The milieu of the ballet company - the camaraderie infused both humorously and agonizingly with individualistic obsessions for excellence - strikes a chord of authenticity even though it is struck on a very mannered instrument

July 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinemania

...a periodically spellbinding yet grossly overlong endeavor that could've used a few more passes through the editing bay.

July 11, 2011 Full Review Source:

Deeper the layers go, forever. Pure cinema.

June 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

gloriously original and provocative--a truly groundbreaking fusion of reality and fantasy that helped pave the way for future musicals

July 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

... a film of dark fantasy, romantic passion and an infectious love of dance, music and cinema.

July 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

A sublime melodrama...[with a] still astonishing expressionistic dance sequence. [Blu-ray]

July 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

...watching the movie you still get the feeling that Technicolor was invented for it.

July 18, 2010 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

A movie so visceral and sparkling that no less a tough guy than Martin Scorsese ranks it among his favorite pictures of all time.

May 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Oregonian

The film reminds us of where great cinema comes from

March 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

The timeless appeal of a beautiful ballerina torn between ambition and love makes engrossing viewing in this meticulously remastered 1948 classic

March 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

A masterpiece that's long been championed by film critics and archivists and should also be given its place as a part of gay cinema history.

February 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Windy City Times
Windy City Times

What a cast, and what superbly florid but controlled direction. Unequalled Technicolor photography from Jack Cardiff. too.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Truly spectacular, and yet dull.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK] | Comments (4)
Times [UK]

Audience Reviews for The Red Shoes

Anybody who ever tried to have a normal life while trying to be an artist will relate. Can you do it? Is it possible? Even if you're not an artist, you will identify with the lead's dilemma: can you have it all? Beautiful and very well edited and the dance scenes were wonderfully choreographed.
June 7, 2013
Bathsheba Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer

Powell and Pressburger's spectacle of color, choreography and catastrophe makes Black Swan look like an ugly duckling.
January 15, 2012
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Having a shortage of respect for ballet and mesmerizing filmmaking? Watch this fantastic film immediately and it will change your mind on both issues. Don't be put off by what I thought was a slow start. As soon as the film gets its claws in you, which it surely will, you won't be able to forget it.
The only true bad part of the film is the moment when you realize that all ballets aren't productions by The Archers. For if they were, I would be constantly clamoring, like the youths in the first part of the film, for front row seats. Also, and I know this sounds crazy, but it will change the way you look at color films. I felt like I was a child of the 60's who just got his paws on his first color television. All in all, a simply astounding picture.
October 31, 2011
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

An absolute awe-inspiring triumph. The Red Shoes is one of few films that genuinely obsesses over art as vocation, art as religion, and art as the purpose of life. It's a feast for the senses (the gorgeous cinematography, shot in technicolor by Jack Cardiff, the tremendous performances, punctuated by Anton Walbrook's Boris Lermontov, the outstanding dance choreography, and the exquisite, sweeping score by Brian Easdale). It's a film that's sprawling without feeling bloated, and majestic without losing its focus. Emeric Pressburger's story appears simple at first glance, but slowly unravels as a challenging study of the value and purpose of art, and of aestheticism as a creed. I've always respected the art of ballet, but never really took much of an interest in it. It's quite astonishing, then, that I was completely engrossed by the film's 15 minute performance of "The Red Shoes." The artistry of the dancing, the brisk pace, the intense storytelling, the enrapturing backdrops (however superimposed they may have been), were all absolutely riveting.

Clearly The Red Shoes inspired Black Swan. I contend that the latter not only owes a debt to the former, Swan owes it's entire existence to this Archers masterpiece. Not only did Aronofsky lift many of his sequences and storyboards from this film, the thematic concerns, the Bergman-esque exploration of the meaning of art, is virtually identical.

Throughout the years, the term "melodrama" has taken on a negative connotation (thanks Douglas Sirk), but The Red Shoes implores one to recognize that melodrama is extremely powerful if handled correctly. No wonder this film is held in such high esteem, not only as a British nature treasure, but as a classic of film itself. It's one of those rare gems that reminds you of why you love the cinema.
October 30, 2011
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Die roten Schuhe (DE)
  • The Red Shoes (1948) (CA)
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