24 Frames: The Line, the Cross & the Curve (Kate Bush, 1993)

At this juncture it is worth reiterating that literary influences include Brontë — and particularly relevant for Hounds — Tennyson: a classically English late-Romantic poet. Amongst the many films and directors to influence the artist, the figure of Michael Powell looms largest. This influence will be explored during the research into The Red Shoes, but at this point it should be noted that Powell’s work is seen, for the most part, as inhabiting an archetypically English terrain.

Another personal loss was that of the film director Michael Powell, the co-creator of the original film The Red Shoes (1948). Bush managed to meet Powell just once before his death, but was deeply affected by the encounter. Kate Bush’s myriad film influences have already been stated. However, with The Red Shoes being the artist’s most high-profile and direct homage to a prior text, it is necessary to briefly talk about the film and the career of its co-creator, and one of Britain’s most acclaimed film auteurs.

(Kate Bush and Hounds of Love – Ron Moy)

I thought it would be interesting to include this experimental short film made by Kate Bush in the 90′s, to accompany her 7th album ‘The Red Shoes’. It’s essentially a string of music videos tied together with dreamy interludes, but with some lovely little oddball touches and references to the Powell & Pressburger film. ’The Line, the Cross & the Curve’, was a natural progression from her highly imaginative music videos, that were in themselves short films of beautiful quality. It was inevitable that Kate would try her hand at something more ambitious, but sadly it didn’t really make much of an impact upon it’s release, and marked the last project until her recent ‘Ariel’ album more than a decade later. Okay, some of the spoken lines fall a little flat, but there’s some wonderfully theatrical set pieces, a gorgeous use of colour and the songs are hauntingly beautiful. It clocks in at about forty odd minutes, and loosely sticks to the story told in the ballet sequence of the P&P film, with the addition of another dancer who passes on the curse (Miranda Richardson). The cinematography was handled by Roger Pratt, who went on to shoot ‘Chocolat’ & the Harry Potter films interestingly enough.


In Kate Bush’s 1993 album, The Red Shoes, and her film, The Line, the Cross and the Curve, she engages with the symbolism of The Red Shoes fairytale as first depicted in Hans Christian Andersen’s 1845 fairy tale and later developed by the Powell and Pressburger film (1948) of the same name. In Bush’s versions of the tale she attempts to find a space of agency for the main female protagonist in a plot structure over-determined by patriarchal narrative and symbolic logic. I will argue that it is through her own use of mystical symbolism — the Line, the Cross and the Curve — mediated through the deployment of ritual magick and kabbalistic ritual — that she breaks the ‘spell’ of the red shoes story where the main female character can escape the gender specific ‘curse’ of the red shoes.

(Kate Bush, The Red Shoes, The Line, the Cross and the Curve and the Uses of Symbolic Transformation)

Não apenas no The Red Shoes/ The Line a influência é óbvia, varios videos dela dos anos 80 estão lotados de referências, um deles onde ela dança ballet e um dos movimentos é justamente a mímica do arco e flecha, num outro ela parece saída de Os Contos de Hoffmann e no video mais famoso dela, o Wuthering Heights, ela fica fazendo as mesmas caras (e usando a mesma luz) que o Leonide Massine no Red Shoes Ballet mas com um aspecto de Isabelle Adjani que, naqueles idos, “por acaso” havia encarnado a Emily Brontë num filme do André Techiné (com a Pisier como Charlotte e a Huppert como Anne).

Nota: O coreógrafo Lindsay Kemp (o elo perdido entre Michael Powell e David Lynch) era um favorito de Ken Russell, Derek Jarman e David Bowie.


Publicado por Adriana Scarpin

Bibliófila, ailurófila, cinéfila e anarcafeminista. Really. Podem me encontrar também aqui: https://linktr.ee/adrianascarpin

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