What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this revered ballet drama ends with a rather romanticized suicide, a plunge into the path of a train (not explicitly shown, fortunately), a startling ending for a movie that has had universal appeal for ballerinas of all ages. There is the proposal that being a successful creative artist and having a "normal" happy personal life and family at the same time just isn't possible. Characters routinely smoke cigarettes. This is not to be confused, nosiree, with the Korean-made 2005 shocker The Red Shoes, which is a modern horror-film riff on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, or the highly erotic Red Shoe Diaries films/TV sex anthologies.
  • Families can talk about Boris's belief that a great dancer must be completely devoted to the art and nothing else. Do you think this is true of other creative pursuits -- painting, music, filmmaking -- as well? Ask art-minded kids how much they would sacrifice to follow their passions, and where they would draw the line. You can also study the history of the real-life Russian-led ballet troupes that inspired this film, and talk about the notoriously domineering personalities of George Balanchine and Sergei Diaghilev, who sought to exercise Svengali-like influence over prima ballerinas. We highly recommend a well-distributed, gossipy documentary on dance history, Ballet Russes, as a companion to The Red Shoes.
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