"Black Swan" and "The Red Shoes": Dance demented

Since its release 12 days ago, director Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan has been doing booming business. Black Swan will be adding an additional 600 theaters today, with another dozen of those screens in the Twin Cities market. After reading Jay Gabler's review in the Daily Planet, I want to see the film again. It's one of those films that's hard to stop thinking about—it's been growing like a weed in my brain.

As I was watching Black Swan I couldn't help but think that its three screenwriters—Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, and John McLaughlin—must have been inspired by, and perhaps borrowed elements from, the 1948 British film The Red Shoes by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (together they were known as "the Archers"). The Red Shoes has always been considered a classic and is perhaps the the Archers' best-known film. It resurfaced last year with a showing at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival; thanks to Martin Scorsese's fundraising efforts, the film has been completely restored in a project that took seven years. The Red Shoes, based on a Hans Christian Andersen story, has similar themes to Aronofsky's current psychological thriller, but it's not quite as demented—although I'm sure that in 1948, audiences thought, The Red Shoes was something of an oddity.

Last Christmas, the Trylon microcinema brought in a new 35mm print of The Red Shoes and sold out nine of its ten screenings. This year, the Trylon has brought The Red Shoes back for two days only. Whether or not you've seen Black Swan, my recommendation would be to go and catch The Red Shoes and then go see Natalie Portman's terrific turn (so to speak) as a ballerina trying to make it big in Swan Lake.


Image: The Red Shoes, courtesy Rialto Pictures

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    Jim Brunzell III's picture
    Jim Brunzell III

    Jim Brunzell III (djguamwins [at] yahoo [dot] com) was born in the 70's, went to school in the 80's, played sports in the 90's, and has been writing on film for the Daily Planet since 2007.  He is also the Festival Director and programmer for the Sound Unseen Music/Film/Art festival in the Twin Cities, lead programmer for the Flyway Film Festival in Pepin and Stockholm WI, the creator of "The Defenders" series at the Trylon microcinema and has been working on a novel since finishing college.  You can follow Jim on Twitter at (@JimBrunzell_3).