Ballet Shoes (film)

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Ballet Shoes
Ballet Shoes.jpg
Promotional poster
Genre Drama
Directed by Sandra Goldbacher
Produced by Piers Wenger
Michele Buck
Damien Timmer
Patrick Spence
Heidi Thomas
Written by Heidi Thomas
Noel Streatfeild (Novel)
Starring Emma Watson
Richard Griffiths
Lucy Boynton
Yasmin Paige
Emilia Fox
Victoria Wood
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Original channel BBC One
Release date 26 December 2007
Running time 85 minutes

Ballet Shoes is a 2007 British television film, adapted by Heidi Thomas from Noel Streatfeild's 1936 novel Ballet Shoes.[1] It was produced by Granada Productions (formerly Granada Television) and premiered on BBC One on 26 December 2007. It is directed by Sandra Goldbacher.

A previous adaptation of Ballet Shoes was produced in serial format by the BBC in 1975 and directed by Timothy Combe.


The story revolves around three adopted sisters, Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil. They live in near poverty with Sylvia Brown and Nana. Sylvia is the niece of "Gum" (Great Uncle Matthew), a somewhat wealthy paleontologist who leaves for an expedition and does not return, leaving the girls to fend for themselves. They have to sell some of his fossils in order to clear rooms for boarders—the friendly, learned Dr. Jakes and Dr. Smith, the helpful dance instructor Theo Danes, and handsome John Simpson. The story eventually focuses on the various talents of the girls: acting, machinery and ballet.

Pauline has a talent for acting and auditions for the role of Alice in Alice in Wonderland. After landing the role, she allows her growing accomplishments to inflate her ego, and she begins acting rudely and bossing around her sisters. Finally, her pride and constant rule-breaking lead to her losing the part to her jealous rival Winifred, teaching her an important lesson in humility. She tries film acting and finds it very difficult, exasperating the well-meaning director Mr. Sholsky. At the end of the movie she is offered a contract from a studio in the United States, but only decides to go after realizing how the extra money could benefit her family.

Posy thinks about becoming a ballet dancer. After showcasing her amazing talent for ballet to one of the boarders, also a dancer, she begins attending a stage school in order to be taught ballet. The ballet school's mistress, Madame Fidolia, is able to see instantly that Posy possesses considerable talent and begins to teach her privately so that she may learn more advanced techniques. When Madame Fidolia suddenly suffers a stroke while watching a ballet with Posy, Posy is more upset over her own lost career opportunities than in the welfare of her beloved teacher. Deciding that she cannot give up on her abilities, she sneaks into a practice of a famous Russian ballet. After being caught, and after the initial dislike from the teacher for not being Russian herself, she impresses him with her ability to dance and is offered a part in the company, though she is required to move to Prague.

Petrova is Russian, though she does not speak any Russian, having been brought up in England. She wants to work with mechanisms, such as cars and motors. Her biggest wish is to fly, but Pauline convinces her to join a stage production; Petrova later warns her sister to cease prolonging this ordeal. At the end of the movie, Pauline and Posy promise to make their sister go down in history, and not themselves, since they already have achieved their dreams. At the end of the film, when Gum has returned, Petrova flies off in an airplane above the place of Sylvia's wedding with John Simpson, with whom Sylvia had fallen in love.



A July 2007 report from Digital Spy written by Kimberley Dadds announced the involvement of Woods, Griffiths and Warren;[3] the BBC announced that open casting for the roles of the sisters would be a week later.[4] Emilia Fox plays the part of Sylvia Brown in this adaptation; her mother, Joanna David, played the part of Theo Dane in the 1975 BBC adaptation of the same story.[5] Emma Watson, Richard Griffiths and Gemma Jones have all starred in films in the Harry Potter franchise, playing Hermione Granger, Uncle Vernon Dursley and Madam Poppy Pomfrey respectively. In addition, Gemma Jones starred in the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility as Mrs. Dashwood, while Lucy Boynton (Posy) played Margaret Dashwood in the 2008 BBC adaptation of the same novel.[6] Louise Keller of Urban Cinefile notes that this is Emma Watson's first role other than that of Hermione,[7] though her voice would later be heard in The Tale of Despereaux. Identical twin girls Lucy and Nina Watson, who take turns playing a younger Pauline in this film, are Emma Watson's younger half-sisters and only appear in the uncut DVD version of the film.[8]


In a press release dated July 2007 it was announced that the film would begin shooting that August.[4] Screenwriter and producer Heidi Thomas called the schedule "murderous".[5]

Both Victoria Wood and Thomas described Streatfeild's novel as a book they have long treasured.[5] Producer Piers Wenger, who said the film has a "strong rites-of-passage story", related the film to the current "cult of the TV talent shows, and said that it "is also a great antidote to the notion of fame for fame's sake".[5]

Broadcast and commercial releases[edit]

The film was released on DVD in Europe in Region 2 on 7 January 2008.[9] The film had a limited release in U.S. theaters on 26 August 2008;[10] this can be seen as part of Screenvision's initiative to expand its venue.[11] According to a press release on Screenvision's website, KOCH Vision bought the North American Home Entertainment rights from Granada International and partnered with Screenvision; KOCH Vision President Michael Rosenberg said that the theatrical run would help promote the DVD.[12] Participating theaters promoted the film with a trailer and a poster earlier that August, and Random House promoted the "Shoe Books", in association with the film.[13] Ballet Shoes was released on DVD in North America, Region 1, on 2 September 2008.[14] The film premiered on Christmas Eve on TV ONE in New Zealand. It will be broadcast in Canada on CBC.[15] Is was aired in Australia on 7 June 2009.


As of 2013, the film holds a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[16]

Wayne Myers of The Oneida Daily Dispatch called it an "embraceable film of the sort that emerges more frequently from elsewhere nowadays than Hollywood", and praised the performances of Paige, Watson, Boynton and Nicol.[17] Brian Orndorf writes that Emilia Fox as Sylvia "forms the spine of the story" and that Goldbacher "is cautious to silently weave the performance throughout the film to undercut any saccharine temptations."[18] Betty Joe Tucker of ReelTalk Movie Reviews praised the way film evokes the 1930s.[19] Gina Catanzarite, in a review for Parents' Choice, suggested that there may be too much plot material for the film's relatively short running time.[20]

Differences from the book[edit]

  • In the film, Winifred Bagnall appears to be quite arrogant because she is the "best all-round student" in the academy, and her father's illness as well as her meager financial state is suggested only a few times. In the book, Winifred is far less presumptuous and it is discovered early on that Winifred is ambitious because her father's illness is the cause of her family's financial struggles, leaving her as the eldest of six children to earn a living to help support her family.
  • The suggestion in the film is that Winifred replaces Pauline as Alice. In the book it occurs for one night only, Pauline is not being sacked but is simply shown she is not indispensable after her attitude gets out of hand.
  • The film has Mr. Simpson a widower who falls in love with Garnie. In the book his wife is alive and there is no romance with Garnie.
  • Posy is made more unsympathetic in the film, she knows Madame is paralyzed for life but she still only cares for herself. In the book she behaves selfishly because those around her have played down Madame's illness, leaving Posy to feel abandoned for a trivial illness.
  • In the book, Pauline and Petrova star in the academy's musical – while in the movie, they don't.


  1. ^ "The Stage / News / Wood to star in a BBC1 adaptation of Ballet Shoes". Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  2. ^ "The UK TV Guide: BALLET SHOES". Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  3. ^ Dadds, Kimberley (2007-07-20). "BBC announces 'Ballet Shoes' drama". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  4. ^ a b "Ballet Shoes dances onto BBC One". BBC Press Office. BBC. 2007-07-20. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Ballet Shoes: Interviews: Behind the Scenes/A Tale of Our Times". BBC Northern Ireland. Retrieved 2009-11-30. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Sense and Sensibility". IMDb. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  7. ^ Keller, Louise (2008-12-18). "BALLET SHOES: DVD". Urban Cinefile. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  8. ^ "Emma Watson official website | Appearance of sisters in film". Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  9. ^ "Emma Watson official website | Release in Europe on DVD". Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  10. ^ "Ballet Shoes Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  11. ^ Thielman, Sam (2008-08-20). "BBC's 'Ballet Shoes' takes U.S. spin: Film reunites three 'Harry Potter' thesps". Variety. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  12. ^ "SCREENVISION PRESENTS BALLET SHOES STARRING HARRY POTTER'S EMMA WATSON". Screenvision. 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  13. ^ Widder, Carrie (2008-07-24). "'Ballet Shoes' in Theaters Week Before DVD Release". Home Media Magazine. Questex Media Group, Inc. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  14. ^ "Emma Watson official website | Ballet Shoes USA". Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  15. ^ "Emma Watson official website | TV One and CBC broadcasts Ballet Shoes". Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  16. ^ "Ballet Shoes" on Rotten Tomatoes
  17. ^ Myers, Wayne (2008-09-10). "On DVD: Excellent 'Ballet Shoes' makes its 'pointe'". The Onieda Daily Dispatch. Retrieved 2009-11-30. [dead link]
  18. ^ Orndorf, Brian (2008-08-30). "Ballet Shoes". Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  19. ^ Tucker, Betty Joe. "Those Fabulous Fossils". ReelTalk Movie Reviews. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  20. ^ Catanzarite, Gina (2008). "Ballet Shoes". Parents' Choice. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 

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