Sunday, May 3, 2009

Red Shoes

The super-saturated red shoes in "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) take Dorothy (Judy Garland) safely back to Kansas.  A tornado had blown her out of her mid-western home and into the Kingdom of Oz, where a wicked witch threatens to kill her.  She is saved by a good witch, who gives her a magic formula: click your shoes together three times and say, "There's no place like home."  The film ends happily with Dorothy and her dear dog Toto back home in Kansas.  A girl can have an adventure and survive.

No so for Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) in the "The Red Shoes" (1948).  This brilliant dancer falls under the spell of a ballet impresario for whom art is a religion, tries to free herself, falls in love, but is drawn back to the red shoes.  When she puts them on to dance once again, she flees the stage, dances out into the night, and throws herself under a train.

Pre-war American optimism triumphs in "The Wizard of Oz."  In "The Red Shoes," made shortly after the end of the World War II,  there is no way for a woman of genius to survive. Victoria page cannot practice her art and marry the man she loves.  Dorothy holds her dog. Victoria Page holds her poor head.  In real life, Moira Shearer had a brilliant career.




  1. "The Red Shoes" with Moira Shearer is one of the best dance movies. Sad too. This is a beautifully done movie that everyone should see especially if you love ballet! this movie is one of my favorites!!!!!
    Gloria Mindock

  2. I agree: a sad film, frightening and beautiful. Wonderful dancing.

  3. The film is notable in many ways. Among them is the fairy tale with a surrealist view. It reminds me on Hichcock's collaboration with Salvador Dali in Vertigo few years later. One doesn't see much surrealism now, although people are frequently heard saying that this or that is surreal. It never is really. Also, between the two films is the abyss of WW II and what a difference that makes

  4. Hello, Bluedog: you make a surprising connection between Hitchcock's Vertigo and The Red Shoes, which does have surreal elements. The shot of Shearer, holding her head seems to come right out of Bunuel, and there are other surreal aspects of the film--Shearer's flight into the night, etc.