I have to be in the mood for The Red Shoes, but the other night I was... I think the idea of committing everything to a career (like dancing) is, or at least was, a very romantic notion, and also the idea that one must sacrifice love to get fame. It's kind of like a really warped version of 1937's A Star is Born (also technicolor, also very badly in need of restoration).
To me there are a lot of reasons why one might be drawn to this film, not as a five year old, but maybe as a fourteen year old and up. There is that romance about career - that would have been a huge issue at the time. I could definitely see a girl who did not fit in, or didn't necessarily dream of getting married to Joe Smith, Hardware, being instead smitten with the idea of making a career as an artist. And Anton Walbrook, well.... poor Marius Goring stood no chance next to a mesmerizing personality like his, and neither would a young, impressionable girl. I agree, he can do no wrong. There is also a lot of magic involved in this story, and this is actually what always surprises and pleases me most about the film.
I really liked the lineup of films Thursday night, though I slept through Once Upon a Time in the West. The programming of The Red Shoes, The River and Bonjour Tristesse was perfection. Even though the ostensible reason for placing those three was to showcase the work of restorers, the other link between the three films was fascinating. They each used color in a lavish, almost expressionistic way, to show conflict, love and buried emotion. That would be enough to link the films, but they also all deal with the internalization of two forces working against each other - in The Red Shoes it was Love vs. Career, or more to the point, sacrifice of one's own dreams for someone else's. All three were about love and how it somehow presages death. Two of the films dealt with death as a direct result of a girl's growing up, equating death of love with becoming a woman, or death of innocence. So really, love dies when a girl reaches sexual maturity. That's kind of a weird idea to put out there, not just once, but two or three times, in different films.
I finally saw The River, after waking up and not being able to get to sleep again. Part of the reason I couldn't get to sleep was the extroardinarily lush color and music in this movie. I loved the poetry of it and the barely held in British emotion.... I'd love to see these three together again . They somehow seem perfectly in tune with each other. Symbols of the eternal struggle between Creation and Destruction.
There is something of magic in all three films.... and the magic goes uncontrolled.... some of it is good and some bad. Once it is released by the unknowing girl, it cannot be stopped until something is sacrificed ( her innocence?). The woman she becomes through suffering must pay. Even in Bonjour Tristesse, one can say that Cecile's machinations are something like magic or witchery --- the witchery of youth.