The centrepiece of this backstage drama from “the Archers” (writers/directors/producers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) is a performance of the ballet that lends the film its title, a tale of love and betrayal is all set within the famed Lermontov Ballet Company.

Vicky Page aspires to join the Lermontov Company, acknowledged to be the greatest team of ballet dancers in the world. Boris Lermontov is not interested-until he sees her dance. Then he realizes that she will become a great ballerina. An iron disciplinarian, he expects Vicky to dedicate herself completely to her art. For Vicky, that is a particularly harsh demand she is attracted by Julian Craster, the young composer who is another of Lermontov’s brilliant protégés. Julian has composed the music for The Red Shoes ballet, a version of the Hans Andersen fairy tale. In it, Vicky achieves stardom. The fantastic shoemaker gives her the magic shoes which impel her to keep on dancing ; she becomes more and more exhausted, until finally she dances to her death.

The performance of the new danseuse brings full recognition of her talent. But the unhappy theme of the ballet is borne out behind the stage. Vicky is irresistibly caught between love for Julian and devotion to the ballet. Lermontov, determined to fulfil her genius, is enraged by the human passion which distracts her. He bullies Vicky; he pleads with her. Unable to make the choice between Julian, whom she has married, and her career, Vicky, bewildered and despairing, deliberately brings her life to a premature end.



September 06, 1948


Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger


Hans Christian Andersen (fairy tale) Emeric Pressburger (screenplay)


Eagle-Lion Distributors Limited


Drama, Romance, Music




133 minutes