Sunday, March 30, 2008

And One More



The Red Shoes (1948)

"We had all been told for ten years to go out and die for freedom and democracy, for this and for that, and now that the war was over, The Red Shoes told us to go and die for Art."

(Director Michael Powell)



How can I put into words what Powell and Pressburger films mean to me? They are heightened, magical, romantic, sensual overload, yet often firmly rooted in something very real.

The Red Shoes was on today (what a bumper crop on TCM, perfect for a day of cleaning and puttering). The divine Anton Walbrook is one of the most unforgettable characters in any film in my memory. His driven, single-minded, elegant, charming and handsome ballet impresario is a perfect foil to the lovely Moira Shearer's mysterious and danced-obsessed ballerina. The whole cast is perfect, featuring several real-life ballet dancers, the colour is unbelievably rich, and the dance sequences are thrilling. Art and artists are served above all. I love this movie! I really have to get it on DVD. I bet Criterion have it. Mmmmmmmmmmmm... Criterion (declaimed Homer Simpson-style).

5 comments:

Edward Hegstrom said...

Not as consistent as The Red Shoes, perhaps, but let me put in a good word for The Tales Of Hoffmann, Powell and Pressberger's 1951 adaptation of Offenbach. Wildly uneven, occasionally laughably overwrought, but achingly romantic and featuring some of the most astonishing imagery ever put on film. Criterion--of course!--has a gorgeous DVD.

Eliane said...

I completely agree about Powell and Pressburger. My father introduced them to me in the 70s when they were out of fashion. He'd seen them when they were released. Other favourites of mine - Life and Death of Colonel Blimp with Walbrook (sigh!) and Roger Livesey who has one of the best voices ever heard on film. I Know Where I'm Going - Livesey again in a mystical Scotland. A Canterbury Tale which is a bit strange and wonderful and sometimes like a documentary of the war. And of course, the one that made me fall in love with them in the first place, A Matter of Life and Death. Oh and I forgot Black Narcissus which is so heightened and amazing to look at but was mostly filmed on set and not in the Himalayas after all. I love the language of them, the colour, the quirky Englishness. You can get pretty much everything on DVD here, but I'm in the UK and it's all region 2. I find this region nonsense sooooo annoying. I can just about see the point with new films and different release times and so forth, but the fact that I can't get any Lubitsch over here, and only some Preston Sturges and you may not be able to get Powell and Pressburger is so daft. Why can't they just release a universal version and get the whole world as a market.

Blog Princess G said...

Edward: The Tales of Hoffman was my first experience of P&P movies. The edition I saw was on late night tv in the 70s - butchered and hacked to bits - and so it was only later I saw it in a more complete form. You describe it so perfectly! Another DVD I shall have to own...

Eliane: how wonderful for you to have seen so many of them. I have yet to see Colonel Blimp and I've only seen part of A Matter of Life and Death (the colours! Livesay!) I have the Criterion DVD of I Know Where I'm Going (Livesay!) And you are so right about the DVD editions. It's very frustrating. Hmmm... Who to write a letter to worded in the strongest terms? :)

willow said...

I can't believe I missed "The Red Shoes"! I was out and about and completely oblivious. Am I the only one in the whole world who has never seen it? It's a classic...I must! I've gotta get to the library this week. Yes, yes! "I Know Where I'm Going" and "Black Narcissus" are at the top of my list...I'm always rambling on about them.

Blog Princess G said...

Willow - I'm looking forward to reading your review on the Red Shoes! :)