"Get a knife and cut them off!": Watch Kate Bush chaotically fight her own legs in the bizarre 1993 short film that she later regarded as "a load of old bollocks"

Kate Bush in the film The Line, the Cross and the Curve
(Image credit: The Line, the Cross and the Curve)

When it comes to conjuring weird and wonderful creative worlds, no artist has managed to succeed in quite the same way as Kate Bush. Something of a hermit in terms of stage appearances, having only ever toured twice throughout her 45-year career, the English musical polymath remains something of an enigma, defined by a catalogue fuelled by an individualistic magic not found elsewhere, brimming with complex lore, powerful imagery and profound ideas. 

Her 1993 film The Line, the Cross and the Curve is one of her stranger offerings. Created in tandem with her 1993 album The Red Shoes, the project was inspired by the 1948 Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger-directed musical fantasy of the same name, and saw Bush not only feature as its star, but take on directional duties, shaping the film into something wholly in her own image - whimsical, extraordinary and, at times, a little eyebrow raising. 

Essentially a stitched-together series of music videos, The Line the Cross and the Curve is an audio/visual performance of The Red Shoes album, opening with the bubbly and bouncing Rubberband Girl (punctuated by Bush being flipped around by her backup dancer like a ragdoll) followed by the shadowy And So Is Love (featuring sensual guitar flourishes by Eric Clapton). Elsewhere, Bush finds herself surrounded by dancing devils, swirling through a snowstorm with angels, and stomping across a cornucopia of fruit.

Co-starring Miranda Richardson and choreographer Lindsay Kemp (Bush's former longtime dance mentor, also a huge influence on David Bowie), the narrative follows the journey of an singer-dancer who meets a mysterious woman (Richardson) in her dance studio, who tricks her into putting on a pair of magical ballet slippers.

The shoes, however, are cursed, and begin to dance on their own accord (soundtracked by a performance of the title-track), sending Bush boogieing her way through strange landscapes, guided by the character played by Kemp, who she must eventually battle to end the torment of ever-dancing feet. There's even one scene where a pleading Bush demands that her feet be cut off, while a pair of upturned legs (which are supposed to be her own) flail lawlessly in front of her, as she grapples to get her body under control.

The film was regarded as a tribute to The Red Shoes' original filmmaker, Michael Powell, a creative who Kate had desperately wanted to collaborate with. In an 1993 interview with Time Out, she noted how she had sought him out, to "see whether he'd be interested in working with me."

"He was the most charming man, so charming," she added. "He wanted to hear my music, so I sent him some cassettes and we exchanged letters occasionally, and I got a chance to meet him not so long before he died. He left a really strong impression on me, as much as a person as for his work. He was just one of those very special spirits, almost magical in a way. Left me with a big influence."

It was possibly this personal tie to the film that contributed to Bush's overall disappointment with its end result. Despite landing her a Grammy nomination for the Best Long Form Music Video a few years later in 1996 (following its initial premiere on November 13, 1993 at the London Film Festival), the vocalist would soon lament in an interview with Now Magazine: "In a way, it was very restrictive because it’s not my conceptual piece from scratch. Also, I’m working around the songs and I had to put myself into the film. I would’ve preferred to cast myself in a smaller role. It wasn’t the ideal situation because it was very rushed and we had little money. But it was an intense project. And I’m very glad I went through it, even if the film is not received well, because I learned so much."

In 2005, Bush would offer a rather more damning critique of the piece, hilariously describing it as "a load of old bollocks". Whatever your view, or indeed Bush's own,  The Line, the Cross and The Curve remains a rousing piece of art, not least for that unforgettably absurd leg scene?

Check it out below:


♬ original sound - sheiskatebush
Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.