The challenges of adapting “The Red Shoes”

From Babbage
December 19, 2016 - 10:11am
THE big screen hungers for them, the small screen is addicted and the stage would not survive without a constant supply of adaptations of novels and films. If it is true that there are only seven basic plots in fiction, it is hardly surprising that the performing arts are one big recycling plant. But what happens when a story makes the journey from one medium to another and back again? What happens to its DNA along the way?“The Red Shoes”, originally a short story by Hans Christian Andersen, is now better known to the world as a British film classic made by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. In their hands, a sinister tale about a pair of shoes that compelled the wearer to dance indefinitely became a complex romantic tragedy about the power struggles in an international ballet company, and an allegory of ambition and sexual desire. The fictional company is run by a saturnine figure whose new ballerina is played by the entrancing, flame-haired Moira Shearer (who was, in real life, a member of the fledgling Royal Ballet). Released in 1948, the film has been hailed as the greatest picture from one of the greatest film-making teams. It’s one that plumbs the...Continue reading

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