Vicky is begrudgingly admitted into Lermontov's troupe, soon becoming its star while falling in love with the equally driven young composer, Julian (Marius Goring). Powell and Pressburger find as much drama and beauty backstage as on, their delirious spectacle culminating in the 17-minute dance of the title, based on Hans Christian Andersen's morbid tale of ballet slippers that drive the wearer to dance to her death.
Dance, girl, dance: Shearer, a performer with Sadler's Wells Ballet (later the Royal Ballet), took a year before agreeing to make her film debut at 21. Her auspicious bow in the seventh art would become ballet's most memorable depiction in film.
"You go too far," the film's original art director, Alfred Junge, told Powell about the brilliant, eye-popping design, seen here in a ravishing new 35 mm Technicolor restoration. (Junge was soon replaced with the painter Hein Heckroth as production designer.) And The Red Shoes turns out to be one of the greatest explorations of going too far in the name of creative mastery.
THE RED SHOES | Nuart | Sat. & Sun., 12 p.m., Wed., 2:15 p.m.