(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: The Red Shoes
Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max
The Pitch: Aspiring ballerina Vicky Page (Moira Shearer, in her feature debut) catches the eye of ballet impresario Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook), who chooses her as his next muse after his prima ballerina quits his ballet company to get married. But when Vicky falls in love with Lermontov’s rising composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring) during the rehearsals for her debut as lead dancer in The Red Shoes, the ballerina begins to crack under the pressure to choose between her two passions: art or romance.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: There’s no question that The Red Shoes is one of the most gorgeous Technicolor films to ever grace the screen. Shot in three-strip Technicolor, a process that’s no longer used because of expense and technical complexity, The Red Shoes blazes with color and light and vibrancy to the point of being intoxicating. It culminates in the film’s famous 17-minute ballet sequence, an impressionistic piece of fantasia that would go on to inspire Gene Kelly’s ballet sequences in Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris, and mark a cinematic high for director-writer duo Powell and Pressburger.
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The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, see how a sequence from Big Hero 6 evolved from the storyboards to the final animation. Plus, see how stuntmen react to sword fight sequences from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and The Last Samurai, and see what a professional ballerina has to say about the accuracy of ballet scenes in movies like Black Swan, Save the Last Dance, and more. Read More »
The world of ballet has served as a flashpoint for a handful of filmmakers over the 21st century, decades after the art form was more dominant in popular culture. In the last couple decades, ballet has served as the foundation for some of the great independent filmmakers, from Robert Altman with his 2003 drama The Company to Darren Aronofsky with his horror-tinged Black Swan in 2010 and Luca Guadagnino with the upcoming remake of Dario Argento’s iconic ’70s tale of terror, Suspiria.
But the best of the ballet films transcends its specific craft, and has become massively influential not only to these newer auteurs, but throughout all cinema in its depiction of the single-minded, almost murderous passion to create art in spite of everything else. It’s a film that turns 70 today and remains timeless: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Red Shoes.
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I’ve always loved reading and hearing what great filmmakers think of other great films and directors. You may have noticed that we ask some directors about their favorite films, from time to time, and I’ve even featured other websites and books that delve into this subject on the site from time to time.
Geoffrey Macnab and the British Film Institute have put together a book titled Screen Epiphanies: Filmmakers on the Films that Inspired Them collecting the stories of thirty-five leading international filmmakers focusing on “the film moments that stayed with them long after they left the movie theater” which inspired them to pursue a career in the movie industry.
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