Have you ever seen the films of Powell and Pressburger? For film buffs this directorial duo created visual masterpieces, many of which are a staple of most Film Studies courses. I grew up watching these films, loving the rich colours and the imagery they conveyed.
‘The Red Shoes’ has always been a favourite, its music having the knack of go round and round in your head for many days after. The same can be said of the red ballet shoes, which the main protagonist, Vicky Page, is unable to take off.
Now you may be thinking what is the relevance of these ballet shoes to this or any Striped Sister? Well for me, there is a huge relevance and it is all connected to the imagery of the red shoes themselves. In this iconic film, the red shoes have a mind of their own and when Vicky puts them on, she has no power over where they go. More significantly, even when Vicky tries to take an independent step forward, the shoes draw her back. It is almost that she is powerless to fight them.
For me, the imagery of this fight connects with the internal fight I often have with my so-called common sense and my gut instinct, particularly when making important decisions. Like all of us, life presents us with opportunities, choices and often difficult decisions to make. Common responses to such decision-making processes can be many. We may start by mulling them over, we may move into creating laborious ‘for’ and ‘against’ columns for particular problems. As things remain unresolved we may even consult ‘I Ching’ or runes, leaving no stone unturned in our quest to find a resolution to our dilemma.
Amongst all this cogitating, action and inaction, it is the gut instinct that I often go back to. Never was this more the case than recently when I was faced with an important decision to make. After much deliberation, I thought I had it cracked and thought I had decided on the best thing to do. Clearly the red shoes had other ideas. Every time I was about to take action, the red shoes and that darned music would appear out of nowhere in my consciousness and pull me back. This kept happening time and time again.
I am no psychic, I am no therapist and incidentally I don’t know what they would make of this! All I do know is that it is years since I have seen this film, and yet the power of this imagery was working in some mysterious way for me. So in the end I gave in and starting listening to that pull. I made my decision and the red shoes stopped pulling me. Maybe they have served their purpose, at least for now. Inevitably I’ve now found myself on quite a different life path of which I don’t know the outcome. The curiosity remains of why these shoes have such visual power and whether such images are unique to me. I suspect the answer to that lies with Powell and Pressburger themselves.
© stripedsisters 2020