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Monday July 15th 2024

The Red Shoes | 1948

The Red Shoes film location: Ladbroke Road, Notting Hill, London W11
The Red Shoes location: Boris Lermontov sees Vicky Page dance Swan Lake: Ladbroke Road, Notting Hill, London W11

The imaginative cinematic style makes Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s romantic dance drama a favourite of, and a big influence on, Martin Scorsese.

The film opens at London’s Royal Opera House, in Covent Garden, WC2. The Opera House is home to The Royal Ballet, Britain’s largest ballet company. Its more recent on-screen appearance, hosting the alien diva’s performance in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, helped to pay for an extensive renovation.

The opera house has since stood in for ‘Bayreuth’, where Professor Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is taken ill in The Theory Of Everything.

Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) sees Vicky Page (Moira Shearer) dancing Odette in Swan Lake (to gramophone records) at the Mercury Theatre, 2 Ladbroke Road, W11, a converted chapel in Notting Hill. Opened as a theatre in 1933, this tiny 150-seater was indeed the birthplace of the renowned Rambert company (famous as Ballet Rambert). It’s now a private residence.

A star ballerina, Page is soon touring France, ending up in Monte Carlo. Be warned: the Monte Carlo of today is not the Monte Carlo of 1948. The classy elegance has been swept away by crass development and the city is now crammed with unlovely concrete blocks.

The flower bedecked railway station, with its wrought iron decoration, has been replaced by a dismal concrete bunker.

The Red Shoes film location: Casino de Monte Carlo, Monte carlo, Monaco
The Red Shoes location: the elaborate opera house: Casino de Monte Carlo, Monte Carlo, Monaco

Page stays at the Hotel de Paris, Place du Casino, thankfully still standing and recognisable, tucked away behind the famous Monte Carlo Casino. The opera house, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, is part of the Casino.

It’s a sign of the times that the principality, once a byword for sophisticated elegance, sees its Hotel cropping up again in Iron Man 2, and its Casino in GoldenEye.

The party spends an evening at Villefranche-sur-Mer, the beautiful and unspoiled little town on the coast just east of Nice, also seen in rogue Bond film Never Say Never Again and Jean-Claud van Damme actioner Maximum Risk.

The deserted mansion, with its atmospheric staircase, where the dancer visits her mentor Lermontov, is Villa Leopolda, Avenue Leopold II, east of Centre Ville, overlooking Villefranche.

The sinuous art nouveau terrace, from which Page ultimately flings herself, has been demolished to make way for a functional concrete walkway. And despite appearances, it’s way across the other side of the principality from the railway line onto which she falls.