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Top Memorable Lines from “The Red Shoes” (1948)

Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s classic narrative, The Red Shoes (1948) unfolds on the silver screen under the creative guidance of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. This cinematic piece tells the tale of a ballerina faced with a heart-wrenching decision between her devotion to dance and a blossoming love affair with a composer. Featuring Moira Shearer as Victoria “Vicky” Page, a burgeoning dancer from a noble lineage, the film debuts her acting prowess. Although inspired by a whimsical fairytale, Vicky’s odyssey traverses perilous paths with great stakes. The movie deftly tiptoes into a haunting, suspenseful domain with each decision Vicky contemplates. Devotees of movies like Black Swan would find a kinship with The Red Shoes. Nonetheless, it retains its storybook charm, particularly through its memorable lines. Presented here are a few cherished excerpts from The Red Shoes.

Boris Lermontov: What drives you to dance?
Vicky: And what drives you to continue living?
Boris Lermontov: I’m not sure of the exact reason… but it’s a compelling need.
Vicky: I am driven by the same need.

Boris Lermontov: You must choose. A dancer enthralled by the fleeting comforts of love cannot ascend to the pinnacle of greatness. Never.

Boris Lermontov: Remember, conveying an impression of simplicity is attained through the deepest torment of one’s soul and body.

Boris Lermontov: The Ballet of the Red Shoes originates from a Hans Andersen tale. It recounts a girl’s voracious yearning to partake in a dance sporting a pair of red shoes. She acquires these shoes and jubilantly attends the dance. Initially, all seems well, she’s in high spirits. Eventually, exhaustion sets in, she yearns for home, yet the red shoes are not weary. On the contrary, the red shoes know no fatigue. They whirl her through the town, across mountains and valleys, over prairies and through woods, from dusk till dawn. Life accelerates, love flashes by, existence itself hastens on, but the red shoes persist.
Julian Craster: And in the conclusion?
Boris Lermontov: In conclusion, she succumbs.

Julian Craster: In my twilight years, I wish for a lovely young woman to question me thus, “In all the years you’ve lived, Mr. Craster, when were you the merriest?” To which I shall respond, ‘My dear, pinpointing it is tricky. It was somewhere along the Mediterranean. I found myself in Victoria Page’s company.” “You mean the eminent dancer?” she will quiz. And I will confirm with a nod. “Yes, my dear, precisely. She was youthful then, barely touched by the world. We were smitten, as I recall.”

Boris Lermontov: Could you encapsulate ballet for me, Lady Neston?
Lady Neston: Perhaps one might liken it to the embodiment of poetry in motion, or…
Boris Lermontov: One might indeed. Yet for me, it signifies infinitely more. Ballet, to me, is akin to sacred devotion.

Boris Lermontov: Bear in mind that the act of pilfering is far more soul-crushing than to be on the receiving end of theft.

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