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Riot at the Rite (2005)

In the spring of 1913, Parisian businessman Gabriel Astruc opens a new theater on the Champs Elysées. The first performance is the premiere of Igor Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring', danced... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vaslav Nijinsky
George Antoni ...
Romola de Pulsky
Marie Rambert
Philip Gammon ...
Kolossal the Pianist
Matthew Hart ...
Naomi Wattis ...
Griff Rhys Jones ...
Gabriel Astruc
Pearce Quigley ...
Nicholas Roerich


In the spring of 1913, Parisian businessman Gabriel Astruc opens a new theater on the Champs Elysées. The first performance is the premiere of Igor Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring', danced by the Ballet Russes. The rehearsal process is extremely fraught: the orchestra dislike Stravinsky's harsh, atonal music; the dancers dislike the 'ugly' choreography of Vaslav Nijinsky. The volatile, bisexual Nijinsky is in a strained relationship with the much older Sergei Diaghilev, the Ballet Russes' charismatic but manipulative impresario. Public expectation is extremely high after Nijinsky's success in 'L'apres-midi d'un faune'. Finally, 'The Rite of Spring' premieres to a gossip-loving, febrile, fashion-conscious Parisian audience sharply divided as to its merits. Written by Peter Brynmor Roberts

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Release Date:

11 March 2006 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Igor Stravinsky: [during a rehearsal with the orchestra, the musicians become uncomfortable with the stamping rhythms of Stravinsky's score, mess up and burst out laughing] What's so funny? Huh? Huh? That is *precisely* what I wrote!
[marches over to the piano and pounds out the discordant stamping; everyone stares at Igor as if he's mad]
Igor Stravinsky: You understand? Huh? *I* write, you PLAY!
Pierre Monteux: [trying to diffuse the tension] Gentlemen, if we might pick it up from the bar before 104?
[orchestra resumes rehearsing]
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User Reviews

All Rite On The Night
12 March 2006 | by See all my reviews

Time was if the BBC wanted to put on The Rite Of Spring they would simply have done so. That kind of unashamed highbrow viewing for minority audiences has become decidedly unfashionable, however, as the Beeb scrambles for ratings to help justify its ever-increasing demands for public funding. But this is a good try with a difficult work. Even today, most people would find Stravinsky's harmonic language in the Rite rather tough going, and Nijinski's violent fractured choreography still challenges expectations nurtured on the conventions of classical ballet. But by setting a performance of the whole ballet (yes, folks, not a note missed) in the dual contexts of its preparation and notorious reception, the Beeb manages to smuggle through a performance of the Rite in the guise of TV drama. To be sure the settings are not entirely satisfactory. There are too many posturing luvvies, Stravinsky might as well have been played by Ronnie Corbett, and the audience jeers and catcalls are small beer compared to the actual event at which the police had to be called in to restore order. For quite long sections of the ballet however the audience is almost completely quiet, and it can be enjoyed in peace. In particular the closing sections of the sacrifice are (a few cutaways aside) almost audience-free - not historically credible, as the audience would have been going wild at this point. It appears to have been assumed that, however tough the idiom, the TV audience would enjoy watching a virgin dance herself to death undistracted. Fair enough - I know I did.

As drama it is above average, though not by much. As a presentation of the original performance of the Rite, it is magnificent. I only wish they had created a straight performance as a by-product for DVD release. Perhaps they will....

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