The story of Vaslav Nijinsky, who is widely believed to be one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time. Based on Romola Nijinsky's "Last Years Of Nijinski.The story of Vaslav Nijinsky, who is widely believed to be one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time. Based on Romola Nijinsky's "Last Years Of Nijinski.The story of Vaslav Nijinsky, who is widely believed to be one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time. Based on Romola Nijinsky's "Last Years Of Nijinski.
Those of you saying this film was "brave" for attempting to portray a gay romance on screen in 1980 - did we watch the same movie? The only kiss between two men in this involves a goofy and obvious gimmick with a tissue to avoid censorship, and besides that the relationship between the real Diaghilev and Nijinsky was far from romantic. It was an exploitative business transaction that quickly soured when Nijinsky decided to marry.
The film tries to cover a period of ten years in just two hours, which leads to idiotic insinuations, such as Nijinsky going mad because he sexually repressed himself, or because his brother was "insane" . The man was a schizophrenic; nothing specific actually caused his illness. The stress of not being able to find work after Diaghilev fired him for marrying Romola likely did exacerbate it along with other factors. But the fact remains that he was married to her for five years and had a child by her before he was institutionalized; saying he went crazy because of their marriage is ridiculous.
Okay, I'll throw the non-history buffs a bone. I know that most biopics play fast and loose with the truth, but this movie is just not good or enjoyable to watch even as a piece of entertainment. The acting is often melodramatic to the point of being cringe-worthy. Alan Bates as Diaghilev is good, but George de la Pena and Leslie Browne are very poorly cast as an overwrought Nijinsky and simpering Romola. The script contains a lot of really dumb moments (I laughed hysterically during the film's only "sex scene" which is soundtracked with Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, as well as the cabin-trashing scene that is reminiscent of Tommy Wiseau's The Room), scenes which don't make a whole lot of sense, and throwaway lines which don't factor into the plot or mean anything later. Nijinsky kisses his female ballet partner (who is presented as an amalgam fulfilling the roles his partner Tamara Karsavina and his sister Bronia filled in real life) on the lips, and I guess it's supposed to be our first sign that he is trying to rebel against his nature and Diaghilev, but the scene ends awkwardly and nothing actually comes of it. So what was the point of the scene?
If you are curious about Nijinsky and the Ballet Russes and really want to see a movie version, go watch the BBC production Riot at the Rite - it's free on YouTube. Otherwise, this movie is pretty much irrelevant and I can't recommend it.
- Jan 11, 2020