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Michael Powell’s The Red Shoes (1948) is his greatest work and one of my all-time favorite films. The Red Shoes is a work of art about art. The central characters of The Red Shoes are ballet impresario Boris Lermontov (brilliantly played by Anton Walbrook), ballerina Victoria Page (acted and danced by Moira Shearer), and composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring, who was much too old for the role and looks ridiculous smoking a cigarette but is otherwise adequate).

Page and Craster are young talents who are drawn into the creative vortex of Lermontov’s company, rise quickly to stardom, then fall in love with one another and fall out with Lermontov. A happy ending seems, however, to be in the offing until the screenwriter contrives a perversely tragic finale in which Vicky Page dies. Both Lermontov and Craster live on, but they are utterly destroyed as human beings.

The Red Shoes doesn’t just dance around its subject—focusing on personalities, the creative process, and backstage romance—it actually puts ballet on the screen, most spectacularly in the form of a 17-minute original ballet based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale “The Red Shoes,” with music by Brian Easdale, set design by Hein Heckroth, and choreography by the great Robert Helpmann and Léonide Massine, who also dance in the ballet and play the roles of Ivan Boleslawsky and Grischa Ljubov in the film.

The core of The Red Shoes is the character of Boris Lermontov, loosely based on the great Russian ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev and unforgettably brought to life by Anton Walbrook. Lermontov is brilliant, charismatic, and utterly devoted to ballet, which he regards as his “religion.” He can be domineering, autocratic, brooding, and sometimes brutally frank. But his most outstanding traits are the elegant manners, sensitive diplomacy, and affectionate fatherliness with which he manages his team of highly-strung and egotistical artists.

A great deal of the charm of The Red Shoes is watching Lermontov’s creative family in action: Page, Craster, and Grischa as well as designer Sergei Ratov (played by the great German actor Albert Bassermann) and conductor Livingstone “Livy” Montague (played by Esmond Knight). Each day ends as one by one they bid him a fond “Goodnight, Boris.”

Two of the best scenes—where Craster rehearses an orchestra, correcting a wrong note in the process, and where he introduces his original music for The Red Shoes ballet—were actually based on episodes in the process of creating the movie itself.

The Red Shoes is about the relationship between art and life. Early in the film, they are likened to one another, because they are both compulsions:

Lermontov: Why do you want to dance?

Vicky: Why do you want to live?

Lermontov: Well, I don’t know exactly why, but I must.

Vicky: That’s my answer too.

But if art and life are both compulsions, then they can conflict with one another. Even in the best of circumstances, artistic excellence can only be achieved by dominating the body and its desires, sublimating some, suppressing others. As Lermontov puts it, artistic excellence can only be achieved by a “great agony of body and spirit.”

But beauty and excellence can easily become all-consuming obsessions that don’t just dominate life but destroy it, a danger represented by the red shoes. In one of the best scenes in the movie, Lermontov summarizes the story of The Red Shoes ballet to Craster, who will compose the music:

The ballet of The Red Shoes is from the fairy tale by Hans Andersen. It is the story of a girl who’s devoured by an ambition to attend a dance in a pair of red shoes. She gets the shoes, goes to the dance. At first, all goes well, and she’s very happy. At the end of the evening, she gets tired and wants to go home. But the red shoes are not tired. In fact, the red shoes are never tired. They dance her out into the streets. They dance her over the mountains and valleys through fields and forests, through night and day. Time rushes by. Love rushes by. Life rushes by. But the red shoes dance on.

Lermontov is practically in a state of rapture when he completes his synopsis.

“What happens in the end?” asks Craster.

“Oh, in the end, she dies,” says Lermontov, as if it were an afterthought.

The Hans Christian Andersen tale is more about sin and addiction to sensual pleasures, whereas in the film the red shoes represent the sacrifice of life to the obsessive pursuit of beauty.

Later in the film, after the successful debut of The Red Shoes ballet, Lermontov explains his ambitions for her career and offers Vicky a Mephistophelean choice:

Lermontov: I want to create, to make something big out of something little, to make a great dancer out of you. But first, I must ask you the same question: What do you want from life? To live?

Vicky: To dance.

Near the end of the film, Lermontov comforts a heartbroken Vicky with the words, “Life is so unimportant”—unimportant compared to art, that is.

Part of life is love, marriage, and family. Lermontov is particularly dismissive of ballerinas who allow these considerations to interfere with their art. First, it leads him to dismiss his prima ballerina Irina Boronskaja (Ludmilla Tchérina):

I’m not interested in Boronskaja’s form anymore . . . nor in the form of any other prima ballerina who’s imbecile enough to get married. . . . She’s out, finished. You cannot have it both ways. The dancer who relies upon the doubtful comforts of human love will never be a great dancer. Never.

(This episode seems to be based on Diaghilev’s decision to fire Vaslav Nijinsky when he got married.)

Lermontov then begins to groom Vicky to replace Boronskaja. When Lermontov learns that Vicky and Julian have fallen in love, he tries to break them up, driving Craster to quit on the assumption that Vicky will stay. But instead she leaves as well.

It is tempting to believe that Lermontov was acting out of sexual jealously. His body language with Vicky in one scene is quite intimate. Also, before he learns of Vicky’s relationship with Craster, he seems to wish to ask her on a date, although it may simply be to discuss business. Earlier in the film, Vicky thinks that Lermontov has invited her on a date, which she eagerly accepts, dressing up like a princess. But it turns out to be just a business meeting. Only when it becomes apparent that Lermontov is entirely focused on his work does she notice Craster. Craster accuses Lermontov of jealousy. He agrees, but says it is not sexual. He may be telling the truth. After all, there’s no hint of sexual interest in Boronskaja, yet he rejects her for getting married as well. It might indeed be just about his single-minded devotion to ballet.

In another brilliant, brooding scene, Lermontov comes to the realization that he has been a fool. (Note that Lermontov, always the impresario, adjusts the lighting, finds his mark, and assumes a pose before inviting people into a room.) Then Lermontov decides to approach Boronskaja, who is still happily married, and lure her back on stage. Boris has obviously concluded that art and life—in particular, married life—need not conflict. A year later, he manages to lure Vicky back on stage to dance The Red Shoes again.

Then Emeric Pressburger’s script goes seriously off the rails. Or, rather, the red shoes dance the story off a balcony and onto the rails. The original Andersen tale has a gruesome end. The girl, unable to take off the red shoes, asks the executioner to chop off her feet, which go dancing off in the red shoes. The girl, thus freed of sin, ends up going to heaven, which is a happy ending of sorts.

Fixated on contriving an ending that is both gruesome and unhappy, Pressburger simply forgets about Lermontov’s character development toward accepting that his ballerinas can have private lives. He also turns Julian Craster into a petty, jealous villain—something not foreshadowed in the least. Then they drive Vicky to suicide.

The whole setup is absurd. Vicky has come to Monte Carlo on vacation. On the spur of the moment, she agrees to dance The Red Shoes again. We are asked to believe that Craster’s new opera is to premiere in London the same day that Vicky dances The Red Shoes again in Monte Carlo. Why was Vicky in Monte Carlo on her husband’s big night?

Then we are asked to believe that Craster leaves his premiere and travels all the way to Monte Carlo on the suspicion that his wife will be on stage again. He shows up in her dressing room to the sound of villainous music, dressed in a black leather trench coat (in Monte Carlo, in the summer). Is Julian a Nazi now? Then he demands that she return with him that very moment to London without going on stage.

Vicky refuses. Julian storms out. Lermontov villainously exults in triumph. Then Vicky, who is trying on the red shoes for that night’s performance, goes mad and hurls herself off a balcony, then gets hit by a train. The train seems like overkill, but there’s still enough life in her to beg a distraught Julian—who just happened to see her plunge to her death, even though it would have been impossible from his vantage point—to take off the red shoes.

I can’t think of a more arbitrary, ramshackle, and dissatisfying end to an otherwise great movie. It is a testimony to just how good the rest of the film is that viewers put up with it.

When the producers of The Red Shoes saw the finished film, they thought they had an expensive flop on their hands and decided to cut their losses by stinting on the premiere and promotion in the UK. However, the film became a hit in the US, largely due to word of mouth and a few independent theatre owners who loved it. The Red Shoes ended up nominated for five Academy Awards, winning for its music and art direction. It went on to be one of the highest grossing British films ever.

Initial reviews were tepid and desultory, but the film’s reputation among filmmakers and critics has grown steadily over the years. It is widely hailed as a masterpiece and included in many “best of” lists.

Despite the flawed ending there are many reasons why I return to The Red Shoes again and again: Michael Powell’s extraordinary visual imagination, the colorful characters and outstanding cast that bring them to life, cinematographer Jack Cardiff’s lush Technicolor, Brian Easdale’s vivid music, the dazzling ballet sequences, and the glimpses of London, Paris, and Monte Carlo before the fall, which provoke nostalgia for a world I have never known.

But above all, I love The Red Shoes as a portrayal of the world of European high culture: an aristocratic, inegalitarian world devoted to the pursuit of beauty and excellence—a world whose basic principles contradict those of democracy and mass commercial entertainment. Try it for the entertainment. You’ll stay for the art. And some of you will return out of obsession.

 
• Category: Arts/Letters • Tags: Hollywood, Movies 
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  1. It is tempting to believe that Lermontov was acting out of sexual jealously.

    Jealousy

  2. Never got around to seeing this one. Don’t much care for the artificiality of Powell and Pressburger.

    I suppose it comes down to how one feels about ballet. Sure, a beautiful dance form… but it always struck me as too ‘gay’. (Ballet in BLACK SWAN wasn’t even good.)

    When I think of ballet, this comes to mind:

  3. @Priss Factor

    Hey Priss, i think you might like the Russian movie The Bolshoi, which is about a ballerina, but it’s pretty good and easier to stomach than most. You will come to see ballet as a brutal sport.

  4. @Marshal Marlow

    gay? What the hell??

    Look, if ballet were all female, I would appreciate it more. Not like it but appreciate it.

    But then, there’s some fruity-looking guy in tights prancing about on tip-toes and it looks so tooty. Who wants to see the outlines of buttocks of some candy-assed prancer-dancer?

    Now, what dancers like Baryshnikov did was amazing to be sure. I’m not doubting the talent and skill. Still, it looks so tootsy-poo.

    I’m not a big fan of dance. It’s okay when women do it, but men dancing… never my cup of tea.

    There are exceptions. I love SINGING IN THE RAIN but Gene Kelly was a very masculine dancer.
    I like the opening of WEST SIDE STORY too. The ballet elements were made tougher and grittier.

    And though I’m no fan of commie ballet/opera, the RED DETACHEMENT OF WOMEN has some gung-ho elements.

    • Replies: @Marshal Marlow
  5. @Marshal Marlow

    I would gestimate that 80% of male ballerinas are gay. Similar to 99% of poets and 70% of male nurses. It simply goes with certain territories.

  6. Very interesting review. It reminds me that I wanted to watch this.

    I know nothing about ballet. I took my daughter to The Nutcracker when she was young. And to lessons to see if it resonated with her. (It didn’t.) Opera clicked more with her, probably because I know that and could explain it to her. I’ve recognized the obvious athleticism and artistry in ballet, but I just never invested in trying to “figure it out”. I knew of a guy or two from my rugby time who had done some ballet on the side or off-season, for strength, balance, etc. Reportedly it was quite helpful. Of course that’s not “the real thing”.

    I’ve seen this movie cited in the past as a great cinematographic display (maybe the best) of the French Riviera avant le deluge. I’ve had it in the back of my mind as something to check if only for that. I was not sure that the rest would be my cup if tea. I’m still not. But I can give these kinds of things a shot. And now I will. Back from the Forgotten-To-Do List to the Near-To-Do List.

  7. @Happy Tapir

    “I would gestimate that 80% of male ballerinas are gay.”

    Agree, but the 20% who are not have some very lovely and strong (and quite flexible!) young women to choose from, as ballerinas are notoriously randy types and apparently easy to abuse (or so I’ve read: https://nypost.com/2018/09/05/ex-nyc-ballet-dancer-joked-about-abusing-ballerinas-like-farm-animals-suit/)

  8. @Mustapha Mond

    Ha that’s true, they are in a buyer’’s market. But most ballerinas probably marry rich producers, not impoverished dancers, lol! Much as hot nurses want to catch doctors, not male nurses!

  9. Simon says:

    I’m not the fan of this movie that you are — partly because of, no surprise, that implausible ending — but your enthusiasm is infectious and tempts me to check it out again. (My favorite Powell film is “I Know Where I’m Going.”) What interests me about “Shoes” is that, by reputation, and despite the unhappy ending, it’s what made thousands of young girls want to become dancers. It’s like a recruiting film for ballet.

  10. @Priss Factor

    If forced to choose, I’d say that ballet is probably my favourite art form. If you know the work, the trick is to keep the volume so low that it’s almost subliminal otherwise it can overwhelm the actual ballet. It’s the reverse for opera – watching a couple of middle-aged hippos on stage detracts from the beauty of their voices.

    Baryshnikov is a total horn-dog and has done the gene pool a favour by fathering kids all over Hollywood before settling down with a former ballerina. Nureyev was the reverse – he discovered a love of cock during a visit to the west and soon defected. He left no kids.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  11. I see that Trev is on a surge to binge watch Michael Powell films.
    the Red Shoes is a movie I will try to watch for these three reasons: Moira Shearer,Moira Shearer, Moira Shearer.

    And many thanks to Marshal Marlow for keeping us up to date on the sex lives of the male dancers.

    The posters on this forum are well informed about many useless topics. That’s why I keep coming back.

  12. Forced myself to finally see the whole thing. Not my cup of tea but I can see the attraction and understand its high esteem among certain film lovers. Martin Scorsese for one always lists it in his top five or ten of the greatest films.

    A happy ending seems, however, to be in the offing until the screenwriter contrives a perversely tragic finale in which Vicky Page dies. Both Lermontov and Craster live on, but they are utterly destroyed as human beings.

    Not true. As RED SHOES the movie is based on a tragic tale by Hans Christian Andersen, it was designed to end tragically; ‘Red Shoes’ story serves as a darkly romantic metaphor for art as tragedy(through transcendence). RED SHOES isn’t just about the people involved in the production of Red Shoes the ballet but how its tragic themes leap out into life itself. At the end, Craster is certainly heartbroken, but Lermontov, though shaken and saddened, triumphs in a way in the creation of the ultimate dancer. It’s like the jump-to-the-death by the priest in THE EXORCIST is both death and victory. The ending isn’t ‘contrived’ in the conventional sense of the term: implausible, arbitrary, ludicrous, overly clever, gratuitous, and/or etc. Rather, it’s a necessary coda within a story idea that itself is one big contrivance: Red Shoes as story, as performance, and ultimately as life itself. It has to be appreciated like VERTIGO where every character operates within a logical construct of doomed love and tragedy. In such stories, characters live out their fates without any recourse to free will.

    (RED SHOES) actually puts ballet on the screen, most spectacularly in the form of a 17-minute original ballet based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale “The Red Shoes,”

    It is impressive but also full of gimcrackery. It’s fancy high-toned kitsch but kitsch just the same. Garishly arty and overdone with razzle-dazzle, like the later films of Federico Fellini. It’s all too much. Also, Powell lacked the subliminal touch of someone like Orson Welles whose images slipped through sensory crevices. The deft Welles was always two or three steps ahead of the viewer. In contrast, Powell was nothing if not obvious, and every trick is right in front of us, obvious and simple. For all the complexity of production, the effect is rather crude, like a more elaborate version of the cinema of Jean Cocteau whose trickery was merely updated version of outdated silent cinema techniques.

    The dance would have been so much more effective if Powell had relied solely on editing, lighting, sound, and mood to convey shifts between art and reality. That truly would have been dreamlike and hypnotic, weaving a new way of seeing. But the trick-photography is so glaring at all times that it feels more like circus than art. A more effective use of cinema sensorially draws us in than makes us all-too-keenly aware of what’s on the screen. How more artful it would have been if Powell moved between reality to fantasy without making us aware of the shifts, as in a dream. Then, we would have been IN the dance than merely upon it.

    The Red Shoes is about the relationship between art and life. Early in the film, they are likened to one another, because they are both compulsions:

    Lermontov: Why do you want to dance?

    Vicky: Why do you want to live?

    Lermontov: Well, I don’t know exactly why, but I must.

    Vicky: That’s my answer too.

    Not exactly because Vicky and Lermontov see life differently. Vicky doesn’t see dancing nor life as compulsions. She sees them as natural. She’s happy to be alive, and she’s happy to dance. She dances for joy. She dances when she wants to. It gives her pleasure. Dancing is something she’s willing to give up if she tires of it and finds joy in something else. For her to say that dance is like life means it’s good to be natural. It’s like animals run around because it comes naturally to them. They don’t run to win races or to be the fastest animal. Even though Vicky isn’t without ambition and love of fame, she dances for joy and pleasure. It is a natural extension of her view of life. For her, life and art/dance are not in conflict. This accounts for the misunderstanding between Vicky and Lermontov.

    [MORE]

    To Lermontov, art isn’t merely like life or its extension. After all, most of life is routine and humdrum. One must do what one must to live: Eat, sleep, work, and etc. Life as necessity is about going through the motions, true regardless of whether one is genius or idiot, king or serf. At any rate, art isn’t necessary to life. One could never read a serious book or watch ballet and live to a ripe old age. Indeed, many people with no interest in the arts lead pretty good and happy lives, which is the story of most of humanity. So, whereas life is about necessity, art is about obsession with the unnecessary.
    For Vicky, dance is an extension of her view of life: pursuit of happiness. She came to love dance, and she sees dance as an expression of her joy. So, dance need not be a compulsion with her. But for Lermontov, art/dance is a pursuit of perfection even if it means agony and torment. It must be pursued to the very end. He is the dark and extreme side of the Red Shoes as metaphor, which represents both the joy of dance(as favored by Vicky) and total commitment(as envisioned by Lermontov). Same goes for sports. Most people play sports for recreation and fun. It’s an extension of our natural need to run around and play. For most people, sports is merely a part of their life. But for those who seek to excel in sports and possibly be the very best, sports becomes the life and even overtakes it. It becomes all-consuming, even to the point of self-destruction. This is also true of spirituality. For most people, a bit of piety is enough. But what differentiates the saint is the willingness to devote one’s life entirely to God. No wonder Martin Scorsese loves RED SHOES. It’s yet another false-messiah tale paralleling the life and death of Jesus who went all the way.

    Anyway, there is a misunderstanding between Vicky and Lermontov. When Vicky says she dances for the same reason Lermontov lives, she assumes he is like herself. Vicky is naturally a light-hearted person. She feels joy in life itself. She would have been happy even if she’d never come upon dance. In her mind, life and dance are one and the same, an expression of joy.
    In contrast, Lermontov seems to find little joy or zest in life itself. He lives not for life but for art, for ballet. Without that, he would find life gloomy, absurd, and meaningless. For him, life is fallen and pointless, a world inhabited by no-talents and idiots. It is through art that human ability rises above the hoi polloi and reaches the summit of beauty and sublimity. For Vicky, dance reveals life, whereas for Lermontov, dance redeems life. One might say Vicky’s view is more pagan, more in tune with the natural way of things, whereas Lermontov’s perspective is christo-homo, i.e. nature/reality is ugly, plain, loathsome, and dull EXCEPT when elevated toward transcendence and redeemed by it.

    Lermontov is apprehensive about affection between lovers because everything becomes soft and fuzzy between them. It weakens the sharpness and takes away the edge. He watches with an eagle’s eye as his only love is perfection. In contrast, human love means unconditional acceptance of someone despite his or her flaws. So, when Craster and Vicky fall in love, they become indulgent of one another. Craster can love Vicky the imperfect dancer, and Vicky can love Craster the flawed composer. Lermontov, whose vision refuses to be clouded by lovey-dovey, can see with clarity what is necessary for perfection. Purely from an artistic vantage point, Lermontov is correct that the three had an ideal set-up before the love happened. Craster devoted himself to composing, Vicky devoted herself to dancing, and Lermontov had his eyes on the prize. It was a perfect triangle, but love got in the way. It’s sort of like Merlin in EXCALIBUR sensing that love is bring it all to ruins among Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot.

    Part of life is love, marriage, and family. Lermontov is particularly dismissive of ballerinas who allow these considerations to interfere with their art. First, it leads him to dismiss his prima ballerina Irina Boronskaja

    This is only partly true as it’s not a general principle with Lermontov. He knows very well that most ballerinas in his troupe will not reach greatness. They will merely be adequate, and it’s doubtful that he would have fired any of them for getting married. Indeed, he doesn’t expect much from most people in the business. But he has the dream of creating the ultimate dancer, and SHE must be totally devoted to the art. Thus, Lermontov has a double-take on art. At the basic level, art has its conventions and role in society. It is entertainment and business. But at the highest level, it is for the few who can break through the barrier of conventionality. As a businessman, he’s content with the basic art that brings in the paying customers. But as a visionary, he must have total devotion from the chosen few.

    It is tempting to believe that Lermontov was acting out of sexual jealously. His body language with Vicky in one scene is quite intimate… Craster accuses Lermontov of jealousy. He agrees, but says it is not sexual. He may be telling the truth.

    It’s obvious Lermontov is a toot, especially when he dons those ‘gay’-looking sunglasses. In a way, his personage is instructive as to why homos gained such power and leverage in society. Unlike straight people whose careers and pursuits become weighed down by marriage and children, homos (especially back then when it was scandalous to be outed) were always working. Homos put in more hours because they had fewer conventional burdens of family life and sentimental attachments. Of course, today some homos do get ‘married’ and have semblance of ‘family life’ with adopted children, and homosexuality is even associated with ‘pride’, but in the setting of the movie, homos would mostly have been loners. Also, because homosexuality was regarded as a perversion, sickness, or sin, even most homos grew up with a degree of self-disgust, doubt, and anxiety for having particular peccadillos. Lermontov certainly isn’t a ‘pride-homo’. His sexuality seems to be repressed because he’d rather prefer to squeeze male buns than grab female boobs. So, it’s true that Lermontov is jealous but not in a sexual way. He jealously wants to pull Vicky into his orbit so he could finish the mission of turning her into a total work of art. For Lermontov, whose repressed homosexuality has been channeled into total devotion art-as-religion, it is sacrilege to allow Vicky to remain merely human in the fleshly role of wife and mother. Only through art can she reach the ‘spiritual’ level of transcendence. Such jealousy also crops up in the Chinese film FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE. The Leslie Cheung character, being homo, does feel sexual attraction to his male performer-partner, but the jealousy goes beyond that. He wants both of them to belong totally in the realm of art(the Chinese Opera). It seems like a waste for his partner to get married to some harlot and fritter his talent away as a hubber. Lermontov resembles another character, the old man in Otto Preminger’s LAURA. He is so taken with Laura’s beauty that he wants to construct her into an ideal woman and loathes the notion of any lowlife male coming near her. Another character that comes to mind is Kirk Douglas’s role in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL where Douglas plays a S.O.B. but also an indispensable one-of-a-kind personality with the magic touch.

    In a way, RED SHOES offers a glimpse into the homo-god-complex. Homos have traditionally been more into art(ifice), design, and fantasy because they were denied(and rejected) the humdrum conventionality of conjugal bliss. On the one hand, they didn’t want to get married and do the normal things. On the other hand, society would have punished them(or even executed them) for acting all ‘gay’ and indulging in sodomy. So, homos created an alternative universe in art, decor, fantasy, so much so that it caught the eye of the privileged aristocrats who came to patronize homo creativity.
    In a way, Lermontov is to Vicky what God is to Jesus. Lermontov’s god-complex wants Vicky to forsake human life and totally commit to art and beauty… even if it means madness. Life is about growing old and dying. Art is forever and eternal. Likewise, in Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, there is a part of Jesus that wants to be normal and live as a real man and experience the intimate joys. He wants a wife, family, and children. He wants to grow old and see his grand-children. But God has other plans for him. He must forsake what is human that to reach a higher plane. He must become the messiah, which entails pursuing and living spiritual truth to the end, even if it means crucifixion, humiliation by the mob, and agony of death. Only thus could he reach immortality. And in RAGING BULL, there is much about how a true boxer must repress his sexual desire before the bout to be strong and focused in the ring. Scorsese the renegade Catholic surely drew parallels between RED SHOES and the Christ tale. Though enticed by these parallels, he believes there is only one true Messiah, and the rest are false messiahs as their pursuits, however beautiful or inspiring, are expressions of vanity, sensuality, or egotism than of the deepest wells of the soul.

    In another brilliant, brooding scene, Lermontov comes to the realization that he has been a fool. Then Lermontov decides to approach Boronskaja, who is still happily married, and lure her back on stage. Boris has obviously concluded that art and life—in particular, married life—need not conflict. A year later, he manages to lure Vicky back on stage to dance The Red Shoes again.

    That’s a misreading. Lermontov never feels he was wrong. Luring back Irina was essentially a business matter. After all, he can be practical and diplomatic. With Vicky gone and his dream turned to dust, he needed someone for his company, and Irina just happens to be the one, and he had to make do. He knows the show must go on. He has to pull in the audience, make money, and pay the bills. But if he was truly content with Irina, he would not have gone out of his way to reconnect with Vicky. She is the key to his ultimate dream. He’s had many successes, but he never created the perfect dancer, and he feels it in his bones that it must be her. Indeed, he hires her not merely to put on RED SHOES one more time but to persuade her to leave her life behind and commit totally to dance. He means to drives a wedge between Vicky and her husband Craster.

    Then Emeric Pressburger’s script goes seriously off the rails…. Fixated on contriving an ending that is both gruesome and unhappy, Pressburger simply forgets about Lermontov’s character development toward accepting that his ballerinas can have private lives. He also turns Julian Craster into a petty, jealous villain—something not foreshadowed in the least. Then they drive Vicky to suicide.

    This is totally wrong. First of all, the story is not a realistic portrait of people in ballet. Rather, it’s been specifically constructed so that life imitates art. The story of Red Shoes must be lived out by the particulars in ‘real life’. Its ending was fated to be tragic.

    Also, there was no character development in Lermontov toward accepting the ‘private life’ of Vicky. Rather, Jekyll-and-Hyde-like, he can shift back-and-forth between art and business. When he re-hired Irina, it was the business side of him in action. It’s the same with priests. At times, they must be political and pragmatic, even shake shady hands and take money from questionable sources. But before God, they must be pure. Likewise, while the business-side of Lermontov could seem agreeable and compromising, he never abandoned the ‘religious’ side of his devotion to ballet. His intention wasn’t merely to hire the married Vicky to dance Red Shoes again but to ultimately wrest her from Craster and make her devote her life 100% to art.

    Also, Craster doesn’t come across as a petty jealous villain. His emotions are utterly understandable. He senses correctly as to what Lermontov is really up to. If anything, Lermontov comes across as the calculating villain(yet a sort-of-noble one because his vision is genuine). Craster rightfully fears that he may lose Vicky to Lermontov for good. Also, she is absent on the very day of the premiere of his opera. It is a big day for him, and he naturally wanted his wife to be with him as love and support.
    In a way, both men are possessive of her in different ways. With Vicky as wife, she will merely play a supportive role to Craster as the artist. Her dancing will merely be a hobby, something on the side. In contrast, with Lermontov she can reach the height of her profession and win acclaim in her own right. But she will have to give herself totally to Lermontov. He will possess her like the red shoes possesses the dancer in the Hans Christian tale. Dance as celebration will have to give to dance as tribulation.

    The fact that Vicky feels guilt in Craster’s presence is proof that he isn’t the villain, at least not in our eyes. In Lermontov’s eyes, yes, but the full extent of his deception is revealed in Craster’s presence. Earlier, he enticed Vicky as if he’d mellowed since their separation, but he spells it all out when Craster demands she return with him. Lermontov admits it was his plan to come between them and pull Vicky totally into the dance world. The fact that Craster accepts this and walks away makes him a sad sympathetic figure than a villainous one overcome with petty jealousy.
    It’s doubly sad for him because the movie began with his discovery that the man he admired had plagiarized his work. Once again, something of his is taken from him. In both cases, he plays the loser.

    The whole setup is absurd. Vicky has come to Monte Carlo on vacation. On the spur of the moment, she agrees to dance The Red Shoes again. We are asked to believe that Craster’s new opera is to premiere in London the same day that Vicky dances The Red Shoes again in Monte Carlo. Why was Vicky in Monte Carlo on her husband’s big night?

    Actually, it wasn’t on the spur of the moment. In the back of her mind, there was always a wish return to the stage. Despite severed ties, there was always a thread connecting Lermontov and Vicky. He wanted her back, and she wanted to be back. So, while ostensibly it seems like a spontaneous decision, it was always something she wanted to and regretted walking away from, at least in part. She genuinely chose Craster out of love but also gave up something she loved. Lermontov queries as to whether she kept her body in shape and senses in her affirmative that she’d always wanted to return to ballet in a big way.

    Now, did Vicky arrive in Monte Carlo ON THE DAY of her husband’s opera debut? Isn’t it more likely that she arrived some days earlier and planned to return before the opera date but chose to remain and dance the Red Shoes? And it was her failure to return before the opera that spurred Craster to make his own journey to confront Vicky, who he rightly senses has been pulled into Lermontov’s web?

    Indeed, when Lermontov and Vicky met in the train, Vicky says the opera is only in rehearsal, and Lermontov tells her that he is PREPARING a ballet. There’s no indication that both the ballet and opera will be performed on that very day. It’s my understanding that the performances will take place about a week or two AFTER Lermontov and Vicky meet on the train. The reason why Craster appears so distraught is because he’s been (1) worried sick and (2) surmised(correctly) that Lermontov somehow got his meat-hooks into her. He calls Lermontov jealous, but he too is jealous. Even if he knows Lermontov may be a tooty-toot after all and has no sexual interest in her, he knows she is drawn to his artistic gravity. With him, she is a wife, a mere partner and fan. But with Lermontov, she can be the star, and no one gets more love than the star in the performing arts. Lermontov, though a person of artistic sensibility, is essentially a manager, not a creator in his own right. In that, he’s a bit parasitic of everyone, though he can be said to be as selfless as selfish. He’s selfish in demanding that others bend to his will yet selfless in that his life is totally devoted to ballet and wants the best of his star performers. Craster as composer can be considered a star in his own right, but a composer doesn’t take the stage. It is the dancer, and Vicky-as-star is something that only Lermontov can guarantee. Vicky feels guilt as a wife who isn’t there beside her husband in his moment of glory, but Craster feels guilt as a husband who took the chance of great stardom away from his wife. As in STAR IS BORN, love-and-art is complicated.

    Then Vicky, who is trying on the red shoes for that night’s performance, goes mad and hurls herself off a balcony, then gets hit by a train. The train seems like overkill, but there’s still enough life in her to beg a distraught Julian—who just happened to see her plunge to her death, even though it would have been impossible from his vantage point—to take off the red shoes.
    I can’t think of a more arbitrary, ramshackle, and dissatisfying end to an otherwise great movie. It is a testimony to just how good the rest of the film is that viewers put up with it.

    I’m assuming she didn’t fall on the railroad tracks and was run over by the train. Rather, it seems she fell ON the moving train. Now, if she’d landed on the tracks and her legs were cut off by train wheels, it would have more or less duplicated details in the original Hans Christian Andersen tale. But too gory for cinema, especially at the time.

    Is the train overkill? Maybe, but everything in the movie is overkill, which was either Powell’s strength or weakness(depending on one’s taste). And yet, given the train’s motif in the movie, it sort of makes sense. It was at the train station where Lermontov bid adieu to Irina. It was on the train that Lermontov and Vicky met again. Train represents both separation and union, the transience of life. Indeed, Lermontov is very much a man without a country. Though Russian in origin, he moves from place to place like a high-class gypsy.

    Did Craster actually see her plunge from the balcony or did he turn his head because of the commotion of the crowd?

    How is the ending arbitrary? Vicky’s death and the removal of the red shoes parallel Andersen’s tale. It makes total sense within the concept. Also, her death is not the final scene of the movie. The final scene is Lermontov announcing Vicky’s death to the audience and the performance of RED SHOES going on without her… or with her in spirit. In that sense, Lermontov finally got what he really wanted. He turned Vicky into a spirit. It’s like Jesus died on the Cross and was resurrected as Spirit with eternal life.
    Indeed, even had Vicky become the dancer of Lermontov’s dreams, she would eventually have aged and slowed down with injuries. Even as the best dancer, her flesh and bones would have grown weak. She would have faded. But as a spirit, she is young forever.
    Also, the manner of her death suggests she didn’t merely perform the Red Shoes but lived and died it(and transcended it). Like the heroine in the tale, she was torn between the need to dance and the desire to return to reality. The pull from both sides was so overpowering that the only solution was a kind of heightened death. It’s like the Christ story. Jesus on the Cross felt all the pain of the human flesh, and He also reached out to Heaven. At that moment, He wasn’t neither just a man or just God. He was in that limbo world, the between world, and He had to die to finally cross into the spirit realm. It’s tragic but also triumphant. And the same goes for the ending of RED SHOES. In a way, Vicky’s real role of the Red Shoes was not on the stage as a dancer. Rather, it was her struggle between personal attachment and artistic vanity; and to play this drama to the very end, she had to end like the heroine in the story. She had to take an inspired leap from art into reality, and what is more real than a moving train? And finally, the shoes could be taken off. And yet, her death has released her spirit that can forever dance the Red Shoes.

    But above all, I love The Red Shoes as a portrayal of the world of European high culture: an aristocratic, inegalitarian world devoted to the pursuit of beauty and excellence—a world whose basic principles contradict those of democracy and mass commercial entertainment.

    But don’t you like STAR WARS and TV shows and lots of commercial entertainment?
    Also, Lermontov is aristocratic-like only in part. His nomadism suggests a gypsy-like existence. He’s a hustler and businessman as well as artiste and connoisseur. All said and done, his is a business enterprise.

    By the way, aristocrats were mostly dummies, hardly different from today’s elites. Few created art of their own and relied on others to tell them what was hot and what was not. Most imitated the ludicrous fashions coming out of French courts, with powdered wigs, face paint, and snuff. And oh that pansy-ass dresses. Just imagine. Noblemen started out as warriors. Tough hardy men. But they amassed fortunes and got used to privilege, and their children were raised spoiled with luxury. They became obsessed with status and conformed to whatever was put before them as the latest thing. No wonder so much of aristocratic culture became ‘gay’ and whoopity-poo. Homos came up with all these candy-ass dresses, wigs, and make-up and whispered into idiot aristocratic ears that it was so fancy-poo to dress like fairies and strut around like girly men and speak in high-toned accents(which made British English so ‘gay’ sounding). This is why it’s refreshing to see semi-barbarian elites of the Russian court in IVAN THE TERRIBLE. Them fellers have yet to put on pansy airs… like the Westernized Polish court in the opening of IVAN THE TERRIBLE Part 2.

    Get a load of the tooty-ass Polack on the throne in the scene:

    As if the culture of the Western aristocratic elites weren’t tooty enough, we now have globo-homo fruits running all the culture and making ‘gay’ crap compulsory. This is why I can’t get into ballet. Sure, it’s a great work of art and a beautiful dance form… but it’s also so ‘gaaaaaay’. I prefer folk culture to aristo culture. Manly Russians dancing on tables is better than a bunch of pansies tip-toeing around or prancing about. It was a huge mistake for the Soviet Union to prop up the Bolshoi Ballet and make Russian guys prance around like a bunch of fruits. Chechen Lezghinka is a better dance. Though I don’t like guys dancing in general(with the exception of Gene Kelly in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN and YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT), people of Caucasus have manlier ways of dancing. Ballet should only be for girls. Any guy in ballet tights should be shot.

    Europeans emerged from ‘faggy’-looking aristocratic culture with the rise of the bourgeois and the masses. It was bourgeois culture that led to the English three-piece suit that was at once stylish, economic, and modest(lacking in the aristocratic dictionary). And I’ll take the cowboy look over the aristo-fruit-look any day. Those guys in dusters in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST look real good. But the Three Musketeers look like a bunch of pansies.

    • Replies: @Director95
  13. @Priss Factor

    Thanks for taking the plunge and writing a thoughtful review. The film obviously got you thinking about life and art – maybe the true aim of filmmakers?

    If it was repulsive, like so many PC movies today, I believe you would have said so.

  14. Franz says:

    1948 was the right year for Red Shoes. There was a brief but vivid interest in ballet for a some years before and after WWII. On Broadway a spectacular production of the American ballet Billy the Kid was first performed in 1938. I never heard much about ballet and never really looked into it, but I saw some still from Billy the Kid and would gladly shell out a few bucks to see it performed.

    Trivia: The above embed of the ballet Red Detachment of Women was performed for Richard Nixon and company on his famous “Nixon Goes to China” trip. I only know of it because William F. Buckley Jr. complained about it. Maybe Buck didn’t like the ladies in it.

  15. No doubt a great deal of care and preparation went into the much celebrated dance sequence, but it isn’t quite cinematic. The overall effect is superficial than substantive because it amounts to glittery trickery than wholeness of visioin. It’s like playing with fonts than with words. While pretty fonts are nice in poetry, the decisive factor is the use of words to conjure imagery and moods. Mastery of words than their stylized presentation on the page(as font) is the real heart of poetry.

    The heart of cinema is composition, movement, and editing(montage). And even though Michael Powell knew the language of cinema, he had a tendency to fall back on trickery and superficial effects that cheapened his works — the kind of tricks that got tiresome already in the era of George Melies.
    In the case of A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, the effects were soon badly dated and now seem gauche. The effects in RED SHOES fare better but are still register as effects, over-done, imposed, and at odds to the trance-like aspects of the dance number. The tricks are so obviously tricks(no matter how well-crafted) that they keep reminding us that it’s a bag of tricks than a call to magic. They amount to fonts than the grammar of cinema.

  16. I know this comment will probably fall on deaf ears in these precincts, but the greatest artists sacrifice nothing at all for their ability to create great art. Great art is easy for great artists. It is given by God to some people, in some cultures where there is a reverence for bravery and goodness and piety, to be able to create art with no effort at all, simply because they were born to create great art. People are often confused by the circumstances – circumstances which are real – of the sort of “art” which attracts people who are not good at living life the way it should be lived, and who for that reason seek refuge in “art”.
    But real art at its best is not a “refuge” real art is what is done by people who believe in God – and thus understand CREATION – and who were gifted by God with transcendent abilities.

    It will probably take a couple hundred more years of movies for this to become clear with respect to movies. Western music and architecture and painting and poetry, not to mention number theory and theology, as practiced by the best artists, are where you need to look to understand what I am talking about. There is a reason Ramanujan wanted to live in an English cathedral town instead of in the India of his day.

    • Replies: @lydia
  17. I know this comment will probably fall on deaf ears in these precincts, but the greatest artists sacrifice nothing at all for their ability to create great art.

    But the immersion takes its toll. Beethoven and Van Gogh.

    It’s like athletes. Immersion is brutal and the price is high.

  18. lydia says:
    @very old statistician

    Most of the history of Western art is Christian art. Some artists were tormented and others lifted up by their faith. Would like to hear more about the Indian who preferred to live in cathedral towns. W.H. Hudson in A Shepherd’s Life writes very well about the cathedrals and village churches tho he went back and forth on his belief in Christianity which he blamed on Darwin.

    • Replies: @very old statistician
  19. Most of the history of Western art is Christian art.

    It’s more like neo-paganism fused with Biblical themes, leading to the Aryanization of Semitism, e.g, Michelangelo’s David, at least post-Medieval Era.

    The Byzantine buried classical pagan motifs and favored a more somber iconography but proved far less influential.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  20. @Priss Factor

    No, things are more complex. Motifs are of not such importance as the style, which reflects the spirit of the times.

    There could have be no Gothic or Baroque in the Classical Antiquity.

  21. @Marshal Marlow

    Interesting.

    Speaking as a barbarian, I don’t give a hoot about both forms. To me, ballet is not only faggy- it’s a minor, irrelevant thing- but its aesthetics is for me puzzling or empty, actually failing to express anything that matters. The same goes for opera, which is in many respects different, but still- these are genres, forms, … which are somehow inherently limited by their very structure.

    Drama is great- without singing and dancing.

    Music is great (symphonies, concerts, oratorios, masses, ..).

    But, human body moving through space combined with music and/or singing- this is anticlimax, actually a comedy.

    Ordinary dancing is OK to watch when dancers are skillful. To participate, only on special occasions, otherwise- no thanks.

    De gustibus …..

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  22. @lydia

    Thanks for your eloquent comment. If you don’t mind, I will respond to each of your statements in turn. “Most of the history of Western art is Christian art”. True, but Jesus could have tried to convince us of the truth of his claims by producing great art – but instead he talked to his friends – rather than do what would have been so easy for him to do, produce great art: so the lack of absolutely great art from the few years when Jesus was alive is not an argument against Christianity (not saying you said it was – you said the opposite).”Some artists were tormented and others lifted up by their faith”. True that – but you could say the same about saints – some saints are SAINTS because their life is full of joy, other saints are saints because they have decided to do whatever it takes, even if it involves suffering on their part that could easily have been avoided, to be the sort of person other people rely on. “Indian, cathedral town” – that was Ramanujan, who thought of himself as a Brahmin, not an Indian, and who KNEW he was better than all but one or two Englishmen of his day, at a minimum (he was better than all of them) at number theory, but HIS GREATEST DESIRE was to be a mathematician in England, where GREAT CATHEDRALS, evidencing the great inspiration of CHRISTIANITY in neighborhoods where very smart people hung out together and worked on the sort of problems very smart people are amused to work on, WERE THE SORT OF BUILDINGS HE WANTED TO LIVE AMONG, in contrast to whatever India seemed to offer. In his lonely genius, HE WANTED to be near buildings of eternal genius, and the GREAT CATHEDRALS of England represented that to him. REMEMBER< he could easily have started his own academy of math in India – but he wanted to be associated with THE GREATEST AND MOST PROFOUND ARCHITECTURE that has ever been raised up in this world. "W.H. Hudson" —- when I was a little child, I was gifted "Green Mansions", an illustrated version – thanks for reminding me of that! Listen, I HAVE NO DESIRE to tell anyone that they should listen to me about whether or not to go back and forth on their belief in Christianity – but I will say this …. Darwin is thought of by most people as this great big brain guy, I think of him as a little brother who always entertained me by his excitement at finding a fish that looked a little different than any other fish he had ever seen, a little brother who reminded me of all those times I anxiously headed to the bookstore hoping that the LATEST works of Agassiz or the latest translations of HUMBOLDT AND SCUDDER would be available. Not in a million years would I think that the FACT that they loved animals and plants meant that they had anything to say about WHETHER GOD LOVES US OR NOT – but I still have to say, who doesn't like some little guy who spends his life DESCRIBING SMALL CREATURES in MANY DIFFERENT localities, beaches, islands, tide pools, mountains, hills, valleys, desert islands, volcanic islands, and even IN THE LONELY MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN, neighborhoods of life in places where floating SEAWEEDS, in the goodness of their floating seaweed existence, form a place where life is welcome?

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  23. Mr. Lynch,

    Thanks for this superb review of “The Red Shoes”, a diamond in the trash heap of movies that make sifting through them worthwhile.

    “I love The Red Shoes as a portrayal of the world of European high culture: an aristocratic, inegalitarian world devoted to the pursuit of beauty and excellence—a world whose basic principles contradict those of democracy and mass commercial entertainment” perfectly expresses my reaction to this cinematic masterpiece.

    • Thanks: Trevor Lynch
  24. @very old statistician

    Christian Art is mostly sanctimony lathered onto pagan forms. Apart from Gothic cathedrals and choral singing, I can’t think of any Christian art with distinctly Christian origin.

    The crux of Western Art predated Christianity. Greeks and Romans had great art and architecture. We know little about their music. And the West didn’t achieve greatness with painting until the Renaissance. Still, Renaissance artists, though living in a Christian World, were inspired by revival of paganism. In sculpture, they drew inspiration from classic paganism though in service of Biblical figures and tales. It Hellenized the Hebraic characters.

    Much of Catholic Art is pagan idolatry adapted to Christian rituals. (Some even argue that Christianity itself is Jewish Religion reprocessed via cults and beliefs of pagan origin.) No wonder Protestantism rejected much of quasi-pagan idolatry of Catholicism and suppressed colorful iconography.

    One thing I never liked about Christian Art is the sheer sanctimony. It’s like taking a good song and loading it with lots of syrupy strings. It’s like too much butter on the bread when bread and wine(and a bit of olive oil) are enough. Renaissance artists took painting to a whole new level and set what came to be timeless standards, and many of the paintings are Christian in theme. Sure, they are masterpieces, but I always found the heavy sanctimony overbearing. It is also why I don’t like to hear most Christian mass and that stuff. All that holier-than-thou sanctimony is too much.
    The sanctimony also affected Renaissance works with Christian themes. Even when they idolize pagan heroes and great men, they are featured more as saints than men of action or thought. It has more the feeling of church than pagan temple.
    There are exceptions, like the pagan-themed works of Botticelli whose Primavera is surely the greatest painting ever.

    Byzantine Christian Art is less sanctimonious but the sheer solemnity feels funereal, something befitting a mausoleum than a living culture. It’s like entombed art. Also, the rigid adherence to orthodox patterns allow no room for individuality or sense of free will. Everyone and everything is part of a pattern set in stone or flattened into fate.

    Jews took their religion seriously but they weren’t sanctimonious. Judaism is more real about reality. It’s about prophets and survivors, not about pious saints. No wonder there’s an element of strategy and humor in Judaism, whereas Christianity is rather humorless and dimwitted.

    • Replies: @very old statistician
  25. @Bardon Kaldian

    Anyone remember Buck and Bubbles?

    A limited dance form but lots of energy.

    This guy knows his moves. I hear flamenco has Gypsy origins.

    Filmed dance I like most.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  26. @Priss Factor

    Dancing can be intoxicating …..

  27. @Priss Factor

    Thanks for reading! The Primavera is, in fact, a great painting, a painting I have thought about often for more than 50 years now. One of Botticelli’s 5 or 6 best surviving paintings (scholars and connoisseurs can debate endlessly on which of Botticelli’s lost paintings was the greatest – if you asked me, I might say “The Assumption of the Virgin” – you might say something else, Titian’s classical and Biblical paintings were at that level, often.)

    Try out the Trinity of Rublyov, now enshrined in Moscow, where POWER IS ADDED TO SILENCE WITH BURNING LOVE THAT WOULD frighten the greatest and most brave-hearted of pagans at the thought that they never UNDERSTOOD SUCH LOVE, SUCH SILENT POWER.

    Or, if you are in an anti-Christian mood and you want to see a painting with no Christians in it, but you feel just a little that you might want to give me a chance when I say you should rethink your anti-Christian pro-pagan feelings –
    if you want to understand why SO MANY OF US who admire Christianity have so much love in our hearts for even the geniuses among the pagans (and oBviOuSLY WE HAVE JUST AS GREAT IF NOT GREATER LOVE FOR THE NON-GENIUSES – think about it — ALL CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD& genius or non-genius, and hence ….) – check out, particularly if you ever visit New YOrK, Rembrandt’s painting of ARISTOTLE CONTEMPLATING THE BUST OF HOMER – a painting which describes the PROFOUND SORROW AND LONGING OF THOSE WITH GREAT INSIGHTS but with no knowledge shown on their faces of the OTHERWORLDLY POWER OF PRAYER when those who pray know in their heart of hearts that JESUS LOVES US ALL.

    what I am saying is something that can easily be understood by anybody, even black nationalists and white nationalists and random ideologues (dread word!) and all the other assorted people who have yet to understand THAT THE MOST POWERFUL FORCE IN THIS WORLD IS LOVE and that the only COHERENT DESCRIPTION OF SUCH LOVE is found in the GOOD NEWS OF JESUS, no matter where you hear that good news described.

    For the record, I have never seen a great movie produced by any culture, but if I do I will let you know

  28. @Happy Tapir

    You forgot to add the Seinfeldian tag “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” so as to get the full Judaic flavor.

  29. @Mustapha Mond

    Doctor Leech: It isn’t every day a man wakes up to discover he’s a screaming bender with no more right to live on God’s clean Earth than a weasel. Ashamed of yourself?

    Blackadder: Not really, no.

    Doctor Leech: Bloody Hell. I would be. Still, why should I complain. Just leaves more rampant totty for us real men, eh?

    Blackadder: Look, am I paying for this abuse or is it extra?

    Doctor Leech: No, no, it’s all part of the service.

  30. The fondness of “conservatives” for ballet is a puzzle (another example of “conserving” whatever the Left has imposed). An appreciation of Isadora Duncan — a pagan, and thus a true conservative, notes:

    “She wanted a dance for America, one springing from Walt Whitman and that had “nothing in it of the inane coquetry of the ballet, or the sensual convulsion of the Negro.”

    The connection of “the inane coquetry” to “sensual convulsion of the Negro” is closer and clearer than one might think. The ballet has its origins in, and promotes, Jacobinism, promoting the leveling tendencies that ultimately lead to the enthronement of the Negro as society’s ideal.

    See the monumental tome, Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet:

    Ballet was shaped by the Renaissance and French Classicism, by revolutions and Romanticism, by Expressionism and Bolshevism, modernism and the Cold War.

    Why, for example, is the corps de ballet invariably dressed in white? During the French Revolution, Ms. Homans explains, women who wore “simple white tunics became powerful symbols of a nation cleansed of corruption and greed. . . . The corps de ballet … in white thus took its cue from the Revolution: they represented the claims of the community (and the nation) over those of the individual.”

    No wonder the Chi-Coms loved ballet. And sounds like the perfect medium for someone to tell the thrilling story of how Obama passed health care reform over strong opposition from the Senate.

    Could ballet be the first instance of a curious trend that has since overwhelmed our “cultural” establishment: an elite medium, used for the propagation of Bolshevik values? [“Real stories of working people, as told by rich, Hollywood stars” — Firesign Theater]. Rich “news readers” telling their rich audiences about the latest outrage against “the people” — the first NPR?

  31. Ballet was shaped by the Renaissance and French Classicism, by revolutions and Romanticism, by Expressionism and Bolshevism, modernism and the Cold War.

    Just about anything conservative can be traced to revolutionary beginning.

    Gun rights in America. Traditionally, only aristos could bear arms and hunt.

    Revolution that introduces an idea or method of lasting value turns conservative.

    Conservatism alone cannot create. It can only conserve what has been created by a revolutionary spark. Conservatism is keeping of the fire, not the making of it.

    And paganism can be anything from African animism to Persian high civilization.

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