The Red Shoes ★★★★★
The most overpraised film of recent years is Black Swan – cliché-ridden, predictable and unexceptional in every way. As a ballet-cum-horror movie, it doesn’t bear comparison with Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes. For a start their star, Moira Shearer, could really dance (unlike Natalie Portman) and beyond that the story is told with a sophistication foreign to the makers of Black Swan. Essentially, this is the Hans Christian Andersen fable about the ballerina whose red shoes will not allow her to stop dancing. Around it, P&P (surely the best of all film-making partnerships) construct a believable ballet company ruled by the cold, autocratic Anton Walbrook, and a romance between Shearer and a composer, Marius Goring, which culminates in a decision she has to make – whether to dance for Walbrook or go away with Goring. The ballet sequences are splendid; so is Shearer in her first film. Ultimately, The Red Shoes is chilling, unforgettable. By comparison, Black Swan is just soppy.
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