Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Red Shoes

There is much to be said about film as art. I recently read an article about a film collector. About those of us who believe in purchasing and owning films. Many will buy a film, but then think they need to watch it repeatedly to get their money's worth. Then there are those who feel differently. For me, a film is a painting. A thing one can just walk by and spend no time on at all. Then, there are moments when you need to stand before the work and study. Focus your thoughts on the why of such a masterpiece.

I have been lucky over the past couple of weeks to have returned to watching films. I am always amazed at how much I don't know and haven't seen. Every time I discover a gem of a film, I wonder how it took so long for me to be aware. I think back to Faces (a film I recently watched and which has stuck with me for weeks) and A Zed and Two Noughts (only a couple days behind me, but still very much alive inside my mind). The Red Shoes falls into the same category as these two films. A movie I can't imagine I lived without experiencing.

The Red Shoes works on two levels. On one level, it is a lush ballet film. One could easily just enjoy the talent, the music, the images. And, on another level, the film reveals the struggle of the artist. The constant battle between good and evil. It is suggested a darkness lives within all creative types. That drive to put forth a work for others... a maddening need to express. This is so very well expressed throughout the film.

I have always enjoyed ballet films. There is something so beautiful about the structure of a dance movie. All those involved in dance films always seem less rigid, more alive within their character. Robert Altman's The Company is one of my favorite dance films. And, as strange as it may sound, I really enjoy Center Stage. Even Suspiria benefits from its ballet presence. (Of course, all this goes without saying, I can't wait to see Aronofsky's Black Swan).

I'm not sure I've said much about the film. This being my most abstract review. But, it is a film to experience. From the technicolor tones to the 15-minute dance sequence to the expected, but still heartbreaking finale. The film is from 1948. It does struggle (rarely) with special effects. And, is occasionally overacted. But, all this is forgiven. All this is understood.

By the film's end, I could only feel like my grandparents when I thought to myself: 'they don't make films like they used to.'


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