A couple of weeks ago, I spent the weekend at my in-laws’ place, and Sunday afternoon we sat on sofas and watched old movies, one of which was The Red Shoes. I decided to blog about it mainly because my last post was about Black Swan and how rubbish it was, and The Red Shoes sort of seems to be the film that Black Swan wanted to be. In The Red Shoes you actually get a sense of the dancer’s descent into madness. It’s beautiful, dark and twisted, like all the best things in life…
At certain points you’re left wondering whether the things happening in the film are actually happening, or just occurring in the protagonist’s mind. When she dances with a man who turns into a piece of newspaper, you’re left wondering whether she’s actually dancing through the streets, or in rehearsals, or on stage. It’s really obvious throughout the movie that her mind is slipping and she’s becoming obsessed with the dance.
Part of the reason why it works so well is that there’s a heavier focus on the actual dancing: Moira Shearer is a dancer as well as an actress, which means that all the dancing shots don’t have to be taken from the neck down. Shearer can also act. She’s got the crazy stare down, which Portman couldn’t quite hit in Black Swan.
If you’ve been thinking about going to see Black Swan, find this instead. It’s a million times better.