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The White Countess
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The White Countess (2005) More at IMDbPro »

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The White Countess -- Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.
The White Countess -- Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.
The White Countess -- Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.
The White Countess -- Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.

Overview

User Rating:
6.7/10   4,510 votes »
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Director:
Writer:
Kazuo Ishiguro (written by)
Contact:
View company contact information for The White Countess on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
10 February 2006 (Italy) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Glimmers faintly perceptible See more (73 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Natasha Richardson ... Countess Sofia Belinskya

Lynn Redgrave ... Olga Belinskya
Madeleine Potter ... Grushenka
Madeleine Daly ... Katya

John Wood ... Prince Peter Belinsky

Vanessa Redgrave ... Princess Vera Belinskya

Allan Corduner ... Samuel Feinstein
Timur Engalychev ... Feinstein Child
Lucy Sutton ... Feinstein Child
Amir Maimon ... Feinstein Child
Itay Eltahan ... Feinstein Child
Dan Herzberg ... Frenchman

Aislín McGuckin ... Maria (as Aislin Mcguckin)
Dong Fu Lin ... Taxi Dance Hall Manager (as Lin Dong Fu)

Ralph Fiennes ... Todd Jackson
Da Ying ... Kao (as Ying Da)
Terence Harvey ... Walters
Jeff Harding ... Company Director
Paul Birchard ... Company Director

Lee Pace ... Crane

Hiroyuki Sanada ... Matsuda
Pierre Seznec ... Russian Singer

Dragan Micanovic ... Ilya
Xiao Jun Zong ... Chinese Foreman (as Zong Xiao Jun)
Alex Frolov ... Pickpocket
Kirill Khmelnitski ... Pickpocket
Luoyong Wang ... Liu
Alexandar Richardson ... Young Ilya
Rachel Partington ... Young Sofia
Ramin Razaghi Sefati ... Stallholder
Nicole Utterbeck ... American Girl
Young Fu Fan ... Fu (as Fan Young Fu)
Ke Qin Yao ... General Ji Deng (as Yao Ke Qin)
Jin Quan Liu ... General Shen Yinchu (as Liu Jin Quan)
Manouk Tideman ... Christina
Matt Eaton ... Man Reading Paper

Charles Reston ... Jealous Young Man
Hong Lan Hou ... Columbine

Kyle Rothstein ... Harlequin
David Sutton ... Punchinello
Tomas Hernell ... Pierrot
Violaine Motte ... Cat and Monkey Dancer
Jimbo ... Cat and Monkey Dancer
Jean-Pierre Lorit ... Antoine Jacquier
Len Marchi ... Hospital Doctor
Geoffrey Lieter ... Anti-Semite
Chang Shu ... Woman Helping Jackson
Tetsuro Uragami ... Japanese Officer
Zheng Hua Shu ... Trumpet Player (as Shu Zheng Hua)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hollie Johnson ... Lead Secretary (uncredited)

Richard Trombly ... Feinstein's Neighbor (uncredited)
Garth Tuckett ... Extra (uncredited)
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Directed by
James Ivory 
 
Writing credits
Kazuo Ishiguro (written by)

Produced by
Rahila Bootwala .... associate producer
Paul Bradley .... co-producer
Andreas Grosch .... producer: VIP Medienfonds 3
Richard Hawley .... co-producer
Yue-Sai Kan .... associate producer
Patrick Ko .... executive producer
Ismail Merchant .... producer
Andre Morgan .... executive producer
Simon Oxley .... assistant producer
Zhong-lun Ren .... producer: Shanghai Film Group (as Ren Zhonglun)
Andreas Schmid .... executive producer: VIP Medienfonds 3
Marcus Schöfer .... executive producer: VIP Medienfonds 3
Ben Spencer .... assistant producer
Daqing Wang .... executive producer: Century Hero (as Wang Daqing)
Tianyan Wang .... executive producer: Shanghai Film Group (as Wang Tianyun)
Fu Wenxia .... executive producer: Shanghai Film Group
Kai Wong .... assistant producer
 
Original Music by
Richard Robbins 
 
Cinematography by
Christopher Doyle 
 
Film Editing by
John David Allen 
 
Casting by
Celestia Fox 
 
Production Design by
Andrew Sanders 
 
Art Direction by
Chen Shaomian 
Steve Simmonds 
Baiyang Yu  (as Yu Baiyang)
 
Set Decoration by
Bin Lan  (as Lan Bin)
Bian Qi 
Shanqing Wang 
 
Costume Design by
John Bright 
 
Makeup Department
Carol Hemming .... hair designer
Carol Hemming .... makeup designer
Martina Kohl .... makeup- & hair department head
Claudia Moseley .... assistant to hair designer
Mary-Anne Waite .... makeup associate (as Mary-Anne Waite)
Christie Wang .... assistant makeup artist
 
Production Management
Zhu Bin .... production manager
Arie Bohrer .... production supervisor: VIP
Pierre Proner .... production supervisor
Aaron Shershow .... unit production manager
April YeFang .... production manager: pre-production (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Ben Burt .... second assistant director
William Cheng .... first assistant director: China
George Every .... first assistant director
Gerry Gavigan .... first assistant director: UK
Da Hong .... crowd assistant director
Eliot Mathews .... third assistant director
Charles Reston .... trainee assistant director
Wei Wei .... second assistant director: China
 
Art Department
Shu Chou .... art department translator (as Zhou Shuhao)
Sadiya Chowhan .... art department runner
Tony Harris .... construction manager: UK
Zhongquan Hu .... construction manager (as Hu Zhongquan)
Zhu Liangde .... assistant art director
Xue Menglong .... construction manager
Lin Qingwei .... production buyer
Xiaosong Que .... art department coordinator
Wang Shicheng .... art department runner
Han Shonglai .... construction chargehand
Leipei Tao .... construction chargehand (as Tao Leipei)
Colin Thurston .... property master
Shen Yibin .... set painter
Lingen Yuan .... property master (as Yuan Lingen)
Zhiqiang Yuan .... picture car coordinator
Zhu Zengkang .... draughtsman
 
Sound Department
Coll Anderson .... sound effects design editor
Michael Barry .... sound re-recording mixer
Brian Bowles .... adr editor
Martin Czembor .... sound re-recording mixer
David Flynch .... foley editor (as Dave Flynch)
Robert Galvin .... sound recordist: UK
Robert Hein .... sound designer
Ludovic Hénault .... sound engineer
Bobby Johanson .... adr engineer
Richard King .... assistant sound editor
Sylvia Menno .... dialogue editor
James Nichols .... consultant: Dolby Sound
Glenfield Payne .... sound effects editor
Jay Peck .... foley artist
Christophe Penchenat .... boom operator
Sarah Jean Porter .... apprentice sound editor (as Sarah Porter)
Li Qian .... assistant to sound department
David Wahnon .... dialogue editor
Mike Wood .... adr editor
Ryan Collison .... foley engineer (uncredited)
Mark DeSimone .... adr mixer: New York (uncredited)
Peter Gleaves .... adr mixer (uncredited)
Margot Massie .... sound (uncredited)
Dan Murphy .... sound syncist (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
David Fletcher .... special effects supervisor
Thomas Kittle .... special effects foreman (as Tom Kittle)
Rick Sun .... special effects department translator
Zhu Weiyuan .... special effects: SFS
 
Visual Effects by
Doug Compton .... animator: Asterisk
J. John Corbett .... digital artist: Big Film Design
Quan Han Dong .... animation designer: Asterisk
Brian O'Connell .... creative supervisor: Asterisk
Richard O'Connor .... animation producer: Asterisk
Janos Pilenyi .... optical supervisor: Cineric (as Janos O. Pilenyi)
Ariel Enriquez Saulog .... digital supervisor: Cineric
Winnie Tom .... animator: Asterisk
Jamie Hediger .... digital compositor (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
John Bailie .... focus puller: UK
Qian Defeng .... camera grip
Tommy Finch .... gaffer: UK
Kin Kwong Ho .... second focus puller (as Ho Kin Kwong)
Po Wing Ho .... dolly grip
Jianmin Ji .... gaffer (as Ji Jianming)
Zhao Kaiyou .... camera grip
Tomoko Kikuchi .... still photographer
Yiu-Fai Lai .... director of photography: second unit (as Lai Yiu Fai)
Tony Pierce-Roberts .... director of photography: UK
Li Qiang .... Steadicam operator
Chun Chung Tsang .... first focus puller (as Tsang Chun Chung)
Jiandong Wen .... lighting best boy
Dejun Yang .... camera grip (as Yang Dejun)
Jiandong Yu .... lamp operator
 
Casting Department
James Calleri .... additional casting
Matt Eaton .... extras casting assistant
Patrick Kelly .... casting assistant to producer
Jennifer Wang .... extras casting assistant
Zuanqing Wang .... casting coordinator: SFS
Xu Wiguang .... casting coordinator: SFS
Alex Johnson .... casting assistant (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Rosie Grant .... wardrobe mistress
Antonny Luo .... translator: costume department
Sheena Napier .... associate costume designer
Philip O'Connor .... costume assistant (as Phil O'Connor)
Richard Sale .... wardrobe master
Yingjuan Xiao .... wardrobe master: SFS (as Xiao Yingjuan)
Meng Xie .... assistant to costume designer (as Meg Xie)
Cunzhong Zhang .... wardrobe master: SFS (as Zhang Cunzhong)
 
Editorial Department
Leo Bahas .... negative cutter: Atlab Australia
James Cohen .... assistant editor
Olivier Fontenay .... colorist: Atlab Australia
Giles Gardner .... first assistant editor
John Hill .... first assistant editor (as John Andrew Hill)
Vicki McRitchie .... negative cutter: Atlab Australia (as Vicki Mcritchie)
Vijay Sekhon .... assistant editor
Xiaoming Zhang .... post-production consultant
John Dowdell .... telecine colorist (uncredited)
 
Music Department
David Bahanovich .... musical consultant: Russiann historical music
Andrew Burashko .... musician: piano solo
Martin Erskine .... musical arrangement: additional arrangements
Martin Erskine .... orchestrator
Tass Filipos .... music editor
Roger Flock .... musician: percussion
George Gao .... musician: erhu
Jamie Hopkings .... conductor
Jamie Hopkings .... orchestrator
John Huie .... musician: Shanghai jazz
Lui Li .... musician: Chinese qui
Cory Mandel .... scoring mixer: Toronto
Andy Morris .... musician: percussion
Morgan Neville .... assistant to composer
Mark Skazinetsky .... concertmaster
Chen Tao .... musician: Chinese flute
Yong Li Xie .... musician: zheng
Ron Korb .... musician: flutes (uncredited)
 
Transportation Department
Zhongshu Tao .... transportation captain (as Tao Zhongshu)
 
Other crew
Catherine Allinson .... script supervisor
Karole Armitage .... choreographer
Brooks Baldwin .... dialect coach
Randall Balsmeyer .... main title designer: Big Film Design (as Randy Balsmeyer)
Kate Barker-Froyland .... electronic press kit (as Kate Barker)
Susan H. Bodine .... production counsel (as Susan Bodine)
Michael Chai .... assistant accountant
Zoe Chen .... liaison: Shanghai
Kris Chung .... assistant: Ismail Merchant
Melissa Chung .... production coordinator
Lin Chuxiong .... location production coordinator
Lanny Dong .... assistant production coordinator
Kerstin Dyroff .... production coordinator: VIP
Florian Harms .... legal advisor: VIP
He Jin .... translator: SFS
David Kempski .... production assistant: production office
Sunil Kirparam .... production accountant
Lisa Li .... production assistant
Leonora Lonsdale .... runner: assistant director department
Eva Neufahrt .... production controller: VIP (as Eva Marie Neufahrt)
Berit Norrenberg .... legal advisor: VIP (as Berit Wetzel)
Simon Oxley .... production coordinator: UK
Claudia Sendlbeck-Schickor .... tax advisor: VIP, McDermott
Armen Stevens .... assistant to producers
Ingrid Sun .... assistant: Ralph Fiennes
Christie Wang .... translator
Minnie Wang .... assistant: Natasha Richardson
Young Yongling .... production assistant
Su Yongwei .... assistant location manager
Minhua Yu .... production runner
Marilyn Zhuang .... translator: assistant director department
Miranda Zhuang .... translator: location department
Josef Brandmaier .... financing (uncredited)
Zhi Ying Dong .... assistant production coordinator (uncredited)
Kelly Messias .... assistant: Ralph Fiennes (uncredited)
Darren O'Connell .... floor runner: aditional photography (uncredited)
Ayca Sadikoglu .... production assistant (uncredited)
Geoffrey Stott .... dailies supervisor (uncredited)
 
Thanks
Chris Humphrey .... grateful thanks: Virgin Atlantic
Paolo Mantini .... with gratitude to
Richard Soames .... special thanks: FIlm Finances Inc.
David Tang .... special thanks
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
135 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The real-life mother of Madeleine Daly (Katya) was Madeleine Potter, who played the Countess' sister-in-law Greshenka.See more »
Goofs:
Anachronisms: The Japanese flag should have the chrysanthemum design instead of the rising sun design.See more »
Quotes:
Sofia:If you have any objections, kindly go to hell.
Todd Jackson:You tell 'em!
See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
AvalonSee more »

FAQ

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42 out of 53 people found the following review useful.
Glimmers faintly perceptible, 22 March 2006
Author: Chris_Docker from United Kingdom

The dreams of two unlikely strangers form the basis for this sophisticated drama – one of a world that has been lost and the other of a world that has yet to be found.

Snowflakes fall mysteriously in a grand ballroom somewhere in Russia, echoed in the mind of a beautiful girl in a slum district of Shanghai 1936. Natasha Richardson is a countess, fleeing the Bolshevik revolution, making a living any way she can to support her family. This means working in shady dance halls as a taxi-dancer (and presumably, occasionally, as a prostitute). Her five family members (all older except for a young daughter) loathe the shame she brings on them but have no other means of support.

Ralph Fiennes is a disillusioned US diplomat. He has helped the formation of the League of Nations, is a successful business man, and a hero Chinese nationalists, but has seen all the best efforts to have people live in peace come to nought. Shanghai is full of political tensions – just before the Sino-Japanese war. Fiennes finds solace drinking in lowlife bars and avoiding what he sees as the hypocrisy of those that hold him in such high regard.

A vast amount of talent has been poured into this film: it is the final collaboration of Merchant and Ivory (Ismael Merchant died shortly before final production), the screenplay is by the award winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (who worked with them on Remains of the Day), the other crew are top notch, and the cast also includes both Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave. Yet there is no easy conclusion when asking if it is a major triumph.

The film has a pervading sense of the unexplained, which continues for its whole length (over two hours), so piecing it together is not easy. The politics of the time and place are probably not familiar to most audiences, and the bewildering array of nationalities does not help. Ishiguru's talent is for transcending the material content and taking us into the world of ideas, but it needs most of our concentration to accept the material idea of Shanghai 1936 (which, although painstakingly recreated, often feels like a film set inhabited by a well-known English cast). Not surprisingly, there may be little energy left over for more cerebral imaginings. Fiennes is an American, Richardson and the Redgraves are Russian – even before we meet the Jewish neighbour, the French Consul, a Japanese nightlife connoisseur - and none of the main characters (or actors) are Chinese. But then the ideas are not particularly Chinese either – Shanghai is nothing more than Ishiguro's canvas.

Prising out the dreams gives us some clues. Richardson (Sofia) is no tart-with-a-heart. Their Jewish neighbour, also a refugee, has fled such horrors that mere verbal insults (the worst he has to suffer in Shanghai) fall off him like a deaf man. But Sofia's family are less self-assured. They dream of a decent existence, but Sofia has the greatest moral fibre, in spite of her job. She receives the respects of a Russian Prince – now working as a porter. She warns Fiennes (Jackson) – who is also blind – of a hidden danger and gains his lasting respect.

Jackson has noticed that in the dance halls there are no politics. He longs for a nightclub where people of any political persuasion can relax and mingle freely. Like Sofia, he is tarnished by all the rules of the real world, but his aspirations are higher than his outward lifestyle and the 'bigger picture' of those that would judge him.

Early in the film, Sofia says to a co-worker, "All of us here have to fall in love from time to time to feed our children," yet the film turns many ideas of 'love' on their head before it reaches its (thankfully) emotionally resounding climax. Equally ironically, Jackson speaks of the "vague promise of an intimate encounter" (in an ideal nightclub) when the reality is that merely the vague dream of any intimacy of feeling is the most either he or Sofia feel they could even hope for.

As a meditation on the commonality of death and sex, of the impotent struggle of goodness and taste against the wars that mankind seems addicted to, The White Countess has much to offer. The image of Fiennes in overcoat and bow-tie, calmly pouring brandy as the bombs fall around him, sticks in the mind like the scream of a child. Director James Ivory could have underscored such moments to much greater effect than allowing them to be swallowed in a complex story and an unfamiliar period of history. Fiennes' character seeks some political tension that stops short of violence, but his character – and the film – often lack that very quality.

What seems at first like instant noodles, badly re-heated, holds more sustenance than most will sadly give this film credit for; and if it is a triumph for the Merchant Ivory / Isuguro team, it is one, like its characters and their dreams, so heavily flawed that the aficionados who draw anything from it may well be accused of an over-active imagination.

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