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White Nights (1985)

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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 »


Taylor Hackford


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





Cast overview, first billed only:
Mikhail Baryshnikov ... Nikolai 'Kolya' Rodchenko
Gregory Hines ... Raymond Greenwood
Jerzy Skolimowski ... Colonel Chaiko
Helen Mirren ... Galina Ivanova
Geraldine Page ... Anne Wyatt
Isabella Rossellini ... Darya Greenwood
John Glover ... Wynn Scott
Stefan Gryff Stefan Gryff ... Captain Kirigin
William Hootkins ... Chuck Malarek
Shane Rimmer ... Ambassador Smith
Florence Faure Florence Faure ... Ballerina (Death)
David Savile David Savile ... Pilot
Ian Liston Ian Liston ... Co-Pilot
Benny Young Benny Young ... Flight Engineer
Hilary Drake 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 | Plot Synopsis


Two men. Not soldiers. Not heroes. Just dancers. Willing to risk their lives for freedom-and each other. See more »


Drama | Music


PG-13 | See all certifications »





English | Russian

Release Date:

6 December 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sol de medianoche See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$477,539, 24 November 1985, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo


Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In selecting shooting locations, director Taylor Hackford had an obvious problem: most of the action of White Nights (1985) was set in the U.S.S.R., in Siberia and Leningrad, where permission would not be given to film the movie's subject matter, and where Mikhail Baryshnikov could not safely visit. Nor could Siberian exteriors be built on sound stages because the quality of light of an Arctic summer night would be impossible to reproduce accurately in a studio situation. In an Arctic summer, there is virtually no night, only a lingering twilight. Faced with this challenge, the filmmakers made several reconnaissances in countries close to the Arctic Circle and eventually decided to shoot on the island of Reposaari, off the northwest coast of Finland, where in late summer they would experience the same unique quality of light required for the scenes set in Siberia. It required great diplomacy on the part of co-producer William S. Gilmore before this was allowed to happen, since most people in Reposaari, whose population at the time was 1017, were Communists. They had to be satisfied that White Nights (1985) was not a run-of-the-mill anti-Soviet movie offensive to their enigmatic neighbor. Finnish Communists, however, are pragmatists, according to the film's production notes: the movie would bring in a considerable investment of money and some temporary jobs. The mayor canvassed his people, many of whom were unemployed. The island's once-thriving port was in decline, as were a mutually destructive chemical plant and a fish processing factory. Only three residents objected to the village becoming for two weeks a make-believe Siberian town. 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 »


Nikolai 'Kolya' Rodchenko: I see. You and your wife, you worke in the theater. And you live here... in Siberia.
Raymond Greenwood: It's just temporary.
Nikolai 'Kolya' Rodchenko: [dryly] Of course. Nobody is here permanently.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK cinema release was cut by 16s to remove two uses of 'fuck' to earn a PG rating. Subsequent video versions restore the strong language and raise the certificate to 15. See more »


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


The Other Side of the World
Written by Mike Rutherford (as Michael Rutherford) and B.A. Robertson
Produced by Arif Mardin and Robbie Buchanan
Performed by Chaka Khan
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Worth seeing
3 September 2000 | by catbird-3See all my reviews

I'm not a dance fan, but the opening ballet sequence alone is worth the price of a rental. Baryshnikov had a vertical leap matched only by Olympic high jumpers and a few NBA players. Even if the drama flags in spots, the characters are sympathetic and well-drawn, and the action/suspense is as good as that in other adventure flicks of the time. By now the movie also serves a documentary purpose, convincingly conveying the feel of life in the Soviet Union during its waning years.

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