I almost bought The Red Shoes for the Powell/Pressburger blogathon but ended up not participating in that one. When I saw the Invitation to the Dance movie blogathon I knew I had to watch this film. It's hard to work up enthusiasm for paying Criterion edition prices, but I did it!
I had seen some some parts of it, but The Husband and The Younger Son had never heard of it. I loved it, The Husband liked it and The Younger Son thought the ballet sequence was too slow. We got into a discussion afterwards about the difference between a slow movie and a boring one and argued a bit over which category Barry Lyndon fits into, but that's another subject....
The ballet within the story is based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale.
There are reviews and interviews at the Powell/Pressburger site. Senses of Cinema discusses the film in the context of Powell's and Pressburger's work and has a page devoted specifically to The Red Shoes here. Criterion Contraption's review is here. The British Film Institute has a page here.
FilmReference.com has a list of references and a commentary which includes this on the film's enduring popularity:
The Red Shoes went on to critical acclaim and, less predictably, to sustained popularity with the public. The lushness of its colour-drenched images and its passion-drenched depiction of the characters were not, in themselves, the factors that determined the initial appeal. It was the dancing, the very thing that had made those executives so leery of the film's viability with something approaching mass audience.
Roger Ebert begins his review saying,
There is tension between two kinds of stories in "The Red Shoes," and that tension helps make it the most popular movie ever made about the ballet and one of the most enigmatic movies about anything.
Films de France ends their review with this statement:
Since its initial release, the film’s reputation has steadily increased and today it is recognised as one of the true great masterpieces of British cinema.
the ballet sequence from the movie:
The picture at the top of the post is from wikipedia.
5/30/2010: Criterion Confessions has an article.