The big picture

  • Martin Scorsese’s passion for film led him to restore his favorite childhood classic, The red shoestogether with editor Thelma Schoonmaker.
  • The red shoes Despite some outdated gender norms, it is considered one of the most visually stunning films of all time and features a captivating ballet sequence.
  • The character of Lermontov in The red shoes resonated with Scorsese and reflected his own fascination with the dark side of artistic obsession in his own films.

One of the greatest feelings for any successful artist is the freedom to give back to what inspired them, something that Martin Scorsese He was particularly successful in this when he helped restore one of his favorite childhood classics – The red shoes. Leaded by Michael Powell And Emeric Pressburger (two titans of the classic era of British filmmaking), the film is now considered one of the greatest of all time and landed in the top 100 of last year’s ten-year Sight & Sound poll. But is there any point in praising a film that no one can see? This is where some of the greatest unsung works of film critics, historians and producers come into play, not as creators or champions of new cinematic works, but as restorers of the old.

In an interview with The Independent, Martin Scorsese dubbed The red shoes “The film that takes place in it [his] Heart.” When he was nine or ten years old, Scorsese Sr. had taken a young Marty with him to babysit him The red shoes, and attributed his father’s interest (who was by no means a ballet man) to the fact that everyone was talking about it at the time of publication. A few decades later, in 2006, the Flower Moon Killer The director followed his words with actions and stood by his long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker (Powell’s widow and a legend in her own right) helped finance and ultimately restore the groundbreaking British drama so that millions of people could see the Technicolor marvel in astonishing 4K resolution. Shrinkage and mold had damaged the original negative to such an extent that digital restoration was the only possible option, requiring each individual image (hundreds of thousands) to be examined and corrected individually to save it from a premature death. But what of all the damaged prints that Scorsese could have used his resources to repair? The red shoes so special?

What is “The Red Shoes” about?

Image via The Archers

Moira Shearer shines in The red shoes as Victoria Page, a promising ballerina who quickly moves through the world-famous Lermontov Ballet under the tutelage of her choreographer Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook). She achieved international fame through her production entitled “The Red Shoes”, which is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson and is about a woman who sinks into vanity after her mother buys her the shoes of the title, and later even the Neglected her own mother’s funeral to dance with them. An angel therefore curses her to dance forever, which even the amputation of her legs cannot prevent. In the film, Victoria goes through a similar struggle. Her fame comes with a price as she is forced to choose between her love of dance or her love for the young composer Julian Caster (Marius Goering).

“The Red Shoes” is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful films ever made

Image via Eagle-Lion Films

Facts are facts and The red shoes One of them is being one of the greatest films of all time. It only takes a single frame for any open-minded viewer to reach the same conclusion, even if they insist on some outdated gender norms. For example, there is no reason why Victoria should choose between married life and ballet, but unfortunately in the film we are still in the 1940s. However, the acknowledgment of unbalanced gender norms doesn’t stop the spectacle from oozing through, culminating in a 15-minute sequence in which the entire titular game in the film is performed with breathtaking immersion. You don’t have to be a ballet enthusiast to appreciate this piece, as it is so electrifying in the way it transports viewers directly to the stage of the performance, bypassing two levels of immersion, the stage in the film and the Movie screen itself.

If this 15-minute sequence alone made up the entire film, it would still go down in the annals of film history as one of the most breathtaking sequences ever filmed. However, what the film later does with this very sequence deserves particular praise. Victoria ultimately chooses Lermontov over Julian because her love for dance is too strong to let die. She decides to perform “The Red Shoes” again, but before Julian makes the sad journey to the train station, she feels the inexplicable urge to throw herself from the balcony in front of a passing train. Dramatic? Absolutely, but there is particular ambiguity regarding the lack of knowledge about whether it was suicide or murder (based on the shoes themselves).

After the incident, Lermontov takes the stage in tears to the rapt audience and announces that “Miss Page cannot dance tonight…or any other night,” but out of respect for the fact that The Red Shoes could never dance without her is being performed, decides to put the show on stage exactly as planned, without a soul in the lead role. The result is the same (albeit abridged) sequence as before, so fresh in the audience’s mind, but instead of Page’s joyful ballet skills, all we see is a lone spotlight chasing the figure of a ghost. It is equally impressive due to its lavish set and production design, but the sight of a single spotlight on such an elaborate stage is nothing short of haunting.

What influence did “The Red Shoes” have on Martin Scorsese?

Image via Melco Crown Entertainment

Martin Scorsese was such a fan of the film that, despite all the praise the dazzling Technicolor deserves, he watched it on TV every Christmas – in black and white! This shows that although Technicolor enhances the image, the frame does not need it to have an effect on the viewer. “Even though it was on TV in black and white, we saw it in color. “We still felt the passion,” Scorsese recalls, and while the images speak for themselves, color or not, it was the characters that impressed him more than anything else. This is particularly true for Lermontov, whose passion for his art leads him to succumb to his darker side over the course of the film.

Scorsese explained his fascination with Lermontov, stating in The Independent: “There’s something about the Lermontov character and the world that he controls, and that, I think, is the pool that I return to for sustenance “It has to do with the mystery of art – the mystery of the passion to create and the darker side that can take over.” Scorsese later cites the character as similar to those he himself likes to build in his films, although his obsession with the dark side, devoting himself entirely to his art (be it boxing, being a gangster or being a stockbroker), is present in all of Scorsese’s best works, both classic and modern. This connection speaks to the sensitivity with which Scorsese builds his characters. Anyone who thinks that watching a ballet film won’t help them direct an epic about organized crime should think again.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that even the most influential filmmakers are really just the world’s most talented nerds, many of whom can’t wait to give back to the lesser-known works of art that originally inspired them. For Martin Scorsese, The red shoes shaped so much of his ideology when it comes to filmmaking and the stories that attract him as a director. For The red shoesScorsese gave the film a second life, allowing millions to finally see the film as it was intended, and not just once a year at Christmas time in a black and white box. What began as a gift to him became his gift to the world, just like every film the master has ever made.

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