THE WHITE CROW
By Mary Cox
If you love the ballet, you will love this movie. ”The White Crow” is about Rudolph Nureyev’s defection in the 1960’s during the cold war. Nureyev is widely regarded as the greatest male ballet dancer of his generation. Nureyev was often called a white crow. A white crow in Russia is a person who does things their own way and this was certainly Nureyev. He broke many traditions on his way to greatness.
Directed by Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes, the film is about Nureyev’s life in Russia and how he became a ballet dancer. Oleg Ivenko, a wonderful dancer, stars as Nureyev. Fiennes plays Alexander Pushkin who was Nureyev’s teacher at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Adele Exarchopoulos is Clara, Pushkin’s wife. Calypso Valois plays Claire Saint Motte, a friend who helps Nureyev defect. The acting is superb as is the dance.
Nureyev went to Paris with the Mariinsky Ballet. The film flips back and forth from his childhood, Leningrad, and Paris. It was sometimes confusing to tell in what time the movie and in what city the movie was taking place.
The screenplay was written by David Hare based on the book by Julie Kavanaugh, “Rudolph Nureyev: the Life.” The screenplay depicts Nureyev’s life without spending too much time on his sexuality but touching on it. The film ends in 1961. Nureyev died of AIDS in 1993.
The cinematography is beautiful; the scenes of Paris and Leningrad were gorgeous.
If you don’t understand Russian or French, you will have to read the subtitles when they are speaking those languages. Luckily, part of the film is in English. My only complaint is that several times they flashed the subtitles so quickly that I didn’t have time to read the entire text.
Do not leave too soon because the audience is treated to actual dancing by Nureyev while the credits are running. I had the opportunity to see Nureyev dance in person and he is amazing. Watching him again on the screen was a real treat.