Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nothing but the music...

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

The Red Shoes is yet another film I had only heard about, but can now cross off my list thanks to this series. It's a 1948 British film about a ballet dancer (Moira Shearer as Vicky Page), her meteoric rise after catching the eye of a company owner with exacting taste (Anton Walbrook as Boris Lermontov), and her subsequent downfall when her love of dance gets in the way of her relationship with a talented composer (Marius Goring as Julian Craster). The film prominently features the new ballet "The Red Shoes" based on a Hans Christian fairy tale of the same name in which a woman is unable to take off a pair of red shoes she's been given, forcing her to dance day and night to the point of near-death, a not so subtle reference and foreshadowing to the film's main plot.

The shot above is from the ballet, which happens right in the middle of the film, and clearly outlines the main conflict of the film moving forward. Vicky is happy with her boyfriend, but the allure of the red shoes (aka her career as a top ballet dancer) is too great especially as it is literally dangled in front of her. This love triangle of sorts dominates the latter half of the film which is why my pick for best shot is another shot during the ballet that more artfully showcases this relationship.

Best Shot

Obviously spliced to get all of the main characters into frame, it's a powerful image showing each of them in their natural element. Vicky is in the spotlight, wearing the titular red shoes and dancing. Meanwhile Julian is below conducting and lost in the music with Boris up in his dark balcony, watching, judging, brooding. It's clear that for two of the characters "music is all that matters... nothing but the music" which Boris repeatedly reminds others throughout the film and yet he's the one who let his feelings get in the way and instigates their professional break-up in spite of greatness they were all making.

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