Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948, dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)
“My father took me to see this film in 1950, when I was eight years old. And I’ve never forgotten it. I wouldn’t know how to begin to explain what this film has meant to me over the years. It’s about the joy and exuberance of film-making itself. It’s one of the true miracles of film history.
What keeps nourishing me over the years is the spell the film casts, how it weaves the mystery of the obsession of creativity, of the creative drive. It all comes down to that wonderful exchange early in the film when Anton Walbrook confronts Moira Shearer at a cocktail party. ‘Why do you want to dance?’ he asks, and she answers, 'Why do you want to live?’ The look on his face is extraordinary.’
Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about that exchange. It expresses so much about the burning need for art – the mystery of the passion to create. It’s not that you want to do it, it’s that you have to do it. You have no choice. You have to live it and it comes with a price. But what a time paying it.”
At the end of the evening she is tired and wants to go home, but the Red Shoes are not tired. In fact, the Red Shoes are never tired. They dance her out into the street, they dance her over the mountains and valleys, through fields and forests, through night and day. Time rushes by, love rushes by, life rushes by, but the Red Shoes go on. - The Red Shoes (1948)
Above, the bell ringing scene in Black Narcissus (1947, dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger) as shot on the studio lot; below, the final scene with the addition of Walter Percer Day's glass matte painting of the Himalayas.