ABSTRACT

This chapter discusses literature, film, and psychoanalysis has in its examples of how an individual who is plagued by fragmentation may retreat to delusion provided insight into an alternative route. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s film follows the life of ballerina Vicky Page, who, haunted by her desire for love/art and life/death, retreats into an illusion, which is represented by Lebeau Vicky’s role as Karen in The Red Shoes ballet. The Red Shoes ballet within the film—a 17-minute segment—proceeds from this original tale, where Lebeau Vicky plays Karen, yet the ballet takes on a surreal effect in which Lebeau Vicky’s performance coalesces with her fantasies. The shoes progressively carry her away from her partner, as he is transformed into cellophane. When the shoemaker reappears, he guides her through the Underworld until, finally, a priest removes her red shoes and she dies. The “power” of literature is to bring forth that unfamiliar “other” that engenders tormenting feelings.