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White Nights (1985)

PG-13 | | Drama | 6 December 1985 (USA)
2:03 | Trailer

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An expatriate Russian dancer is on a plane forced to land on Soviet territory. He is taken to an apartment in which a black American who has married a Russian woman lives with her. He is to... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nikolai 'Kolya' Rodchenko
Raymond Greenwood
Colonel Chaiko
Anne Wyatt
Darya Greenwood
Wynn Scott
Stefan Gryff ...
Captain Kirigin
Chuck Malarek
Ambassador Smith
Florence Faure ...
Ballerina (Death)
David Savile ...
Ian Liston ...
Benny Young ...
Flight Engineer
Hilary Drake ...
Stewardess I


An expatriate Russian dancer is on a plane forced to land on Soviet territory. He is taken to an apartment in which a black American who has married a Russian woman lives with her. He is to become a dancer for the Kirov Academy of Ballet again, but he wishes to escape, but can he trust the American? Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A whole new motion picture experience is on the horizon. See more »




PG-13 | See all certifications »





Release Date:

6 December 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sol de medianoche  »

Box Office


$13,046,465 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)|



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Of the casting of the film's two lead actors, director Taylor Hackford said: "Each knew and admired the work of the other but I knew that it would require a story of substance to attract them to a project. [Mikhail] Baryshnikov had turned down films time and again, and he had declined to film the story of his defection. As for [Gregory] Hines it called for him to play an American deserter. I was concerned that each might feel the story was too touchy, too close to sensitive areas; too near the edge for a black American to play, too close to reality for a Russian who has defected to the West to play". See more »


During Chaiko's interrogation of Rodchenko at the clinic, the torn items thrown on Rodchenko change. The image of a partial American Express Gold Card appears, disappears, then re-appears during the course of the questioning. See more »


Captain Kirigin: Colonel, there's something I think you should hear
Colonel Chaiko: [beat] Later. I'm busy.
Captain Kirigin: But sir ...
Colonel Chaiko: [raising his voice] Captain Kirigin, can't you see I'm busy?
Captain Kirigin: [smiles knowingly at Raymond] Very well, Colonel.
Captain Kirigin: Later.
See more »


Referenced in Psych: Bollywood Homicide (2009) See more »


My Love Is Chemical
Written by Walt Aldridge
Produced by Phil Ramone
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Courtesy of RCA Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Fine interesting movie, wonderfully acted (and of course danced)
19 July 2002 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

I just saw this on television - having resisted my sister-in-law's entreaties years ago to see it. It's awfully good.

The movie is imaginative - having Gregory Hines in a theater in Siberia, a defector to Russia when disillusioned and unable to find use for his talents as an adult tap dancer in America after the Vietnam War, married to the translator initially assigned him (an astonishing peformance by Isabella Rosellini), and performing Porgy & Bess to audiences including Russian troops - well, it's a character and situation you don't find in movies every day!

I was amazed at the close-knit work of actors who were not then first name movie stars - and at how well-drawn these characters are -

Helen Mirren is superb as Baryshnikov's former lover, partner, and now director of the Kirov Ballet - angry and constantly deluding herself that things are getting more artistically free in Russia -

Baryshnikov is excellent, reliving the pain of defection in his old theater, seeing a tape of himself when at 17 he was care-free and full of illusory ambition, the discovery of the erasure of his name among children in Russia, the anger of his former partner for his abandonment of her and denunciation of his "selfishness" in defecting -

Hines as a man living with an atrocious mistake and trying always to justify itself to himself - in Siberia, he seems like a man on Mars -

an almost unrecognizable Rosellini as a Russian woman in pained love with Hines (just the looks on her face of love and sympathy and pity and helplessness for Hines are so powerful and moving - I'll never forget them)-

the four are so very very fine together. Each TRULY seems the person they're portraying. If one were to see news photographs or a documentary about such characters - they would look this way, sound this way, move and speak and dress this way.

The dancing is very enjoyable to watch - and you really needn't be a fan of dance (I'm not) to marvel at it.

The only downside of the movie is that it takes these four fascinating and pained characters, and stuffs them into a somewhat formulaic action plot. I also found the music too heavy throughout - let there be silences as they contemplate their messy situations.

This is very well worth seeing.

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