The Red Shoes (U)

A Christmas treat awaits in this restored version of the incandescent Powell-Pressburger classic.

"Truly the most beautiful Technicolor film ever made," says Martin Scorsese, with some justice. The story of a young ballet dancer who makes a fateful decision between love and art, it has a quicksilver grace and variation of mood unlike anything else you've seen. "The Red Shoes" ballet within the film was a novelty, and still is, though the centrepiece remains the hauntingly great performance of Anton Walbrook as the monomaniac impresario, driving on his protégée (Moira Shearer) with a tyrant's single-minded zeal. No scene conveys this better than when he explains the plot of "The Red Shoes" to his composer (Marius Goring), apparently relishing the idea of a young woman whose life is consumed by her red shoes because they, famously, "are never tired". What happens in the end?, the composer asks. "Oh... in the end she dies," replies Walbrook, as if it were a mere irrelevance. You laugh, and yet you feel the chill in it, too. A wintry masterpiece.