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.
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Shanghai. 1936. Crossroads of the world and into this city of political intrigue comes Sofia, a Russian Countess who, with the remains of her family, has been left stateless by the Revolution. Forced by her reduced circumstances to support herself and her family as a bar-girl and taxi dancer, Sofia forms a relationship with Jackson, a blind former diplomat who opens an elegant bar; The White Countess. Their curious relationship matures but they are caught up in the fall of the city to the Japanese invaders.Written by
In preparation for his role, Ralph Fiennes observed a blind man's average day with help from the Royal Society for the Blind. During the shoot he would wear special glasses to simulate blindness before each take. See more »
When Todd is proposing the job to Sophia he says, "It's up here. The bar, everything. It's all inside." When he says this, the camera is from behind him and two fingers are briefly shown pointing to his temple. The camera angle quickly changes to show from the front and only one finger is at his temple. See more »
She is the countess Sofia Alexeyevna Belinskaya. She has everything that I wanted for this place. She has the allure, the tragedy, the weariness. She knows that history has no place for her kind anymore. She is perfect. My centre piece.
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I was caught up in this film from the very beginning. For me, Richardson's performance is Oscar-worthy and Fiennes does a credible job as a recently blind diplomat doing his best to hide from the realities of the world by creating a world of his own. This film could be considered "Casablanca" turned on its head, where people of all different races and religions and beliefs come together at a nexus of great social turmoil, and the story of two small people doesn't amount a hill of beans to anyone but us, the audience. The White Countess is one of my favorite films of 2005. And I have to admit I'm not much of a Merchant-Ivory fan, but this one was truly exceptional.
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