The Red Shoes -1948 – dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
“Why do you want to dance?” asks Anton Walbrook as the ballet impresario Boris Lermontov in an early scene of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1948 classic The Red Shoes. “Why do you want to live?” is the immortal reply from flame-haired Moira Shearer’s Victoria Page, her words pinpointing the themes that The Red Shoes holds closest to its heart. That moment, and the film as whole, has carried incredible resonance for those who make or love art of any kind, those who see little to no difference between the will to create and the will to live.
The Sweet Hereafter – 1997 – dir. Atom Egoyan
(Filmmaker and author quotes from DVD commentary)
Adapted from a Russell Banks book and directed by Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter is the sublime, aching story of a fatal school bus accident in rural Canada. Most of the town’s children are killed as a result, and city lawyer Mitchell Stevens (Ian Holm) travels to the town to fan the flames of confusion and anger into a potentially lucrative class action lawsuit. However, the town’s sorrow mirrors Mitchell’s own personal drama: the loss of his daughter to drugs and darker forces still. The themes of confinement are rife within this drama of parents, children, lovers, and courage.