This striking and moving documentary from BAFTA nominated directors Jacqui and David Morris traces the extraordinary life of Rudolf Nureyev. From his birth in the 5th class carriage of a ... See full summary »
Director Ralph Fiennes captures the raw physicality and brilliance of Rudolf Nureyev, whose escape to the West stunned the world at the height of the Cold War. With his magnetic presence, Nureyev emerged as ballet's most famous star, a wild and beautiful dancer limited by the world of 1950s Leningrad. His flirtation with Western artists and ideas led him into a high-stakes game of cat and mouse with the KGB.Written by
Ralph Fiennes originally did not want to be in the movie, knowing from experience how difficult it could be to both direct and act. But as he tried to get financing for the film he kept being asked if he was going to be in it, and when he said no, "I could see the light fading behind their eyes," because there were no other major names in it, "so finally I folded." See more »
A title card at one point says "The Mariinsky Theatre, Leningrad." However, the theater did not regain that historic Tsarist-era name until 1992. At the time the film is set, during the Soviet era, the building was known as The Kirov Theatre. See more »
I can live anywhere. Remember, I was born on a train. I feel I will never return to my country. But, I may never be happy in the US.
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Have always absolutely loved ballet, such fantastic music and the dancing when well choreographed and danced really entrances me. Rudolf Nureyev in this field was one of the all-time greats, so charismatic, athletic and with leaps and jumps that would be, and are, the envy of many. Also respect Ralph Fiennes very highly as an actor, particularly as tortured characters, and he had shown a lot of confidence in his previous directorial efforts.
'The White Crow' is Fiennes' third film as director, while also featuring in a not large but important role, and stands up as a very interesting and well done film when seeing it with close family friends at the cimema two days ago. All three of us really enjoyed and admired 'The White Crow', being both film and ballet fans (my love of ballet came actually through them, when watching a production of 'Swan Lake' at six years old). We later wasted no time in talking about the things the film did well, while also discussing what could have been done better.
Did feel that the back and forth between the three different timelines could have been done with more clarity and didn't feel as rushed, especially in the early stages of the film. While the childhood scenes are well made and bleakly powerful, despite showing how deprived Nureyev's childhood was and how he came to be the way he was there could have been less of them.
It would have been an even better film too if there were not as many close ups and slow shots, the former of which got slightly self-indulgent and the latter at times nauseated, and also clearer motivations as to why characters behaved the way they did. Although Nureyev's life was a volatile one and he was not easy to work with, anyone who is not familiar with him will be shocked at how his behaviour at a few points during the film is so abrupt and seemingly over the top for reasons not really gone into detail (especially the restaurant scene) that it is a wonder that he still had friends or a job. Also, and this is more an observation than a flaw really, was there anyone else who was slightly distracted by how orange Fiennes looked?
On the other hand, on the most part, 'The White Crow' looks great. The period detail in all three time periods, particularly when in Paris, is handsome and evocative and a vast majority of the film is beautifully filmed. Especially loved the intimacy of it during the dancing, whether it was when the dancers were rehearsing or were performing, and despite being initially put off by the queesiness of it during the scenes involving the defection and the lead up to it that added to the intense claustrophobia and suspense of that portion and fitted perfectly with Nureyev's state of mind. As to be expected the music is wonderful and performed musically with a lot of energy and nuance.
Similarly the dancing leaves one in awe, it is hard not to be envious of the athleticism and grace of it and of Nureyev's technique or not to admire Nureyev's dilligence. The script packs in a lot, maybe too much at times, and is thought-probing and is paced fluidly. Found the mix of English, Russian and French an interesting choice and it added to the authenticity and it does flow naturally, with the subtitles comprehension shouldn't be a problem. The story is not perfect but it to me was never dull and doesn't downplay what it was about Nureyev that attracted so many, the story highlight being easily the defection climax, the intense suspense of which made me bite my nails. Nureyev is still interesting. Did hear on a side note after the screening two ladies behind me whisper "why no Margot Fonteyn?", the answer being that the film covered what came before and during Nureyev's defection, she came later.
Fiennes directs with confidence and keen eye for detail, and the acting is as committed as the dancing. A dancer in real life, Oleg Ivenko's film debut is a wholly credible one and often excellent, he captures Nureyev's athleticism perfectly and while it is hard to match Nureyev's unique charisma Ivenko does very well there too. The supporting performances are equally fine, with the most notable being a quietly sympathetic Fiennes bravely speaking in Russian, a beautiful language and a difficult one and Fiennes masters it. Just to say, do think that the criticism 'The White Crow' has garnered on here is just strange and over-the-top, actually didn't find anything to be offended by here.
Overall, a good well done film. 7/10
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