The Red Shoes

(1948, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)
The Red Shoes

Feminism and the Fairy Tale

Known best for its stunning Technicolor cinematography and groundbreaking fantasy sequences—along with both ballet and dramatic performance from the incomparable Moira Shearer—The Red Shoes is a true jewel of British cinema. The title refers both to the original ballet showcased in the film and to the cautionary tale by Hans Christian Andersen on which it is based. The Red Shoes is emblematic of the pas des deux between feminine desire and the politics of fantasy and is a dazzling example of what happens when fairy-tale fantasy meets movie magic.

Short feature: A Ballerina’s Tale (excerpt; 2015, directed by Nelson George)

Free and open to the public.

Part of the 20172018 Schlesinger Library Film Series

Fairy tales are frequently described as magic mirrors for our unseen selves. In them, we find reflected our own waking-life dreams—our happy endings and hopes of fairy tale romance—and our most irresistible nightmares. What does feminist discourse see in its own magic mirrors? This seven-part film series will explore the illuminating, alluring, provocative, polarizing, and playful pas de deux that is currently unfolding between feminism and the fairy tale against the stage of contemporary cinema. Each evening’s feature includes a film short and brief introduction to the programming.

"Feminism and the Fairy Tale is curated by Katie Kohn, a doctoral candidate in film and visual studies in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.