Sometimes Wearing Shoes Helps You Find Your Way

the most beautiful filmic fairy tale

the most beautiful filmic fairy tale

The Red Shoes is quite possibly the most stunning surprise I’ve seen in months.  The exquisite cinematography kept me glued to my iPhone screen for the whole two and a half hours.  Yes, I did it the disservice of watching it on my iPhone, curled up in bed.  But I must say, that The Red Shoes ran away with my soul and will not come back.  I’ll be purchasing it on Blu-ray and sitting spell-bound in my theater room for years to come.

If you’d like to read an informative summary and review, I refer you to Roger Ebert.  But really you ought to simply purchase the film and experience it all by yourself.  It reminded me of why I like to read fairy tales and will continue to read them until I lay upon my death bed—and even then, provided there’s time between the lying down and the dying.

Fairy tales help us travel this difficult world by simplifying it for us: we can recite all the characters by rote—the hero, the villain, the damsel in distress, the comic relief, the love triangle, the wicked relation.  But just because we recognize them doesn’t mean we really know them yet, and throughout the reading, the archetypes becomes sign posts on the journey to understanding.

Fairy tales help us by elevating our world from the mundane to the magnificent.  Death can look utterly wonderful at the final curtain.  The tedious repetition of our decisions is compressed into dramatic climaxes—rising and falling action, twists and turns.  In a fairy tale, your decision stands and you move forward; there is no washing back and forth on the tossing deck of the ship.  Every moment is fatal—and therefore more worth the living.

The Red Shoes may at first appear to be a classic fairy tale about two loves—the older and the younger, the promising and the seasoned.  But really it ends up being a most unique fairy tale: about the two halves of life, the one of work and the one of the heart.  As it is about artists, the parable of the red shoes can demonstrate oh! so painfully how hazy is the devision between the two, work and heart.  You cannot do one without the other: to work you must care and to care you must actualize through activity.  But there is such a desire to be wholehearted that the division in which we live grows into an impassable schism—especially if you are a woman.

trying so hard to make everything work---but your feet are pinned to the charade

trying so hard to make everything work---but your feet are pinned to the charade

To put food on your table, clothes on your body, and a roof over your head, you must perform a certain amount of utility for the world.  You earn your place in it.  But, to perform a certain amount of utility for the world usually plays out as a sacrifice of the dearest things you love: the person eating dinner with you, complimenting your dress, and waking up in your bed.  Our modern economy and  mode of living is predicated on specialization.  That specialization demands isolation of unique skills, repetition of their performative utility, and exclusive positioning in a system of production.

Sound anything like a ballerina performing the reparatory of her company?

We think that the arts are our last bulwark of everything human—that which is cooperative, creative, and mutual—and yet, in The Red Shoes we discover that not even the arts are safe from the pressures of post-industrial mechanism.  And I, lonely though “I” may be, am not willing to give them over without a fight.  Thanks to The Red Shoes, I discovered I was marching down a road I did not choose to a beat I have not written.  Now that I know that, I can turn and run.

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