If you’re in New York, try not to miss the newly restored version of The Red Shoes (from 1948) currently showing at Film Forum (but only for a couple more days). Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the girl who dons red shoes then can’t stop dancing til death does her in, it’s the story of a ballerina who stars in the ballet of the same name, and suffers the same tragic fate. It’s a bit dated in its story-line (the protagonist has to choose between a husband and a ballet career) and in its melodramatic ending, but the cinematography is stunning, the costumes and sets are glorious (I so want the turquoise dress she wears in the scene where the owner of the ballet company — a Balanchine-type — tells her he’s casting her in the lead!), and Moira Shearer’s lightning-footed dancing is just about the best I think I’ve ever seen onscreen. There’s also a little cameo by Ballets Russes choreo Leonid Massine.
It’s been called by some critics the greatest ballet film ever made, and Martin Scorcese (who helped in the restoration) calls it one of his earliest cinematographic influences.