Thursday, March 30, 2006

Heart Of Fire

A Movie Review

I first became acquainted with the work of the British writer director duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger by watching a documentary on Technicolor. From the clips of their movies I saw I was immediately impressed by what they did with color, the hues and spectrum you'll find in a Powell/Pressburger film is like nothing else you've seen on screen. Last year I managed to find a copy of their Nuns in the Himalayas picture Black Narcissus. An interesting film its narrative didn't entirely work for me but I did get a good sense of the pairs unusual taste in stores and fantastic sets (filmed on a sound stage but a dead ringer for India). The films of theirs I've really wanted to see Stairway to Heaven (it's British title) and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (just released on DVD), were not available so I selected as my next Powell/Pressburger film The Red Shoes from 1948.

Set in London, Paris, and Monte Carlo The Red Shoes follows the rise (and fall) of a prima ballerina and her split allegiance between the love of a young composer (Marius Goring) and loyalty to an old mentor (Anton Walbrook). A kind of cross between Chaplins Limelight and Moulin Rouge with a near Anna Karenina ending, the film seems ahead of its time in that the subtext apears to be about a women's impossible choice between homelife and a career. Acclaimed ballet dancer Moria Shearer (who died earlier this year) was plucked off the London stage to play the lead role of Victoria Page, the first of mere handful of screen appearances for her. Succeeding as a new spin on the old Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale from which it was inspired, The Red Shoes is none-the-less most memorable for its surreal visuals and some of the most elaborate dance numbers ever put on film.


At 8:02 AM, Blogger Nate Dredge said...

I was think would a 'Powell Presburger' be what the media call it when they make minc-meat out of Fmr. Secretary of State Colin Powell?


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