From Rudolf Nureyev’s poverty-stricken childhood in the Soviet city of Ufa, to his blossoming as a student dancer in Leningrad and his arrival at the epicentre of western culture in Paris in the early 1960s, THE WHITE CROW is the story of an incredible journey by a unique artist who transformed the world of ballet forever.
This film is an impressive, dance-heavy biopic that focuses on Nureyev’s childhood, training, and life-changing visit to Paris. The film is distributed by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd. and will be released nationwide on 14 June 2019
Watch the trailer below
Elegantly scripted by playwright David Hare, the film is adapted from Julie Kavanagh’s biography of the legendary Russian ballet dancer, whom Fiennes first became obsessed with after reading Nureyev: The Life, almost twenty years ago.
Known for performances that were sinewy and sensual, Nureyev inflamed Cold War tensions when he became one of the first megastars to defect from the Soviet Union in 1961. In THE WHITE CROW, director Ralph Fiennes tells the story of the ballet legend and his sensational escape to the west.
“It’s so dramatic and is about so many things. It has an interior personal dynamic, the drive for Nureyev to realise himself and the ruthlessness that goes with it. It’s also within the context of the ideological divide between east and west at the height of the Cold War”, Fiennes explains.
“It was that character, that will that made him realise who he was an artist that really grabbed me,” adds Fiennes. “We wanted to make a film about somebody who was exceptional and who broke with convention.”
THE WHITE CROW is Fiennes’ third film as a director, following Coriolanus and The Invisible Woman. As a director, he shows the same alertness for telling details and rich characterisation that he does as an actor. In addition, authenticity is key to his work – he cast Russian dancers and actors and had them speak Russian to each other on screen.
Nureyev is brilliantly played by young Ukrainian Oleg Ivenko, a soloist at the Jalil Tatar Ballet Theatre, who brings just the right note of youthful energy and swagger to the role. Throughout the film the ballet sequences are beautifully executed, and dance is represented as a transcendental experience of success, of leaving behind the past and reinventing the future. Ivenko is an accomplished performer and the supporting cast includes the real-life ballet star and actor, Sergei Polunin.
Fiennes himself plays the film’s most understated role (which he delivers entirely in Russian) – that of Alexander Pushkin, the famed dancer master who sees something in Nureyev’s passion. Pushkin’s wife, Xenia (Chulpan Khamatova), also takes a special interest in Nureyev, eventually inviting him into their private apartment, where she seduces the dancer.
The film sees a young Nureyev travel to Paris with the Kirov Ballet. There he befriends French dancer Pierre Lacotte (Raphaël Personnaz) and socialite Clara Saint (Adèle Exarchopoulos), who is mourning the death of her lover, who happens to be the son of André Malraux, France’s minister of cultural affairs — and a good ally to have when seeking political asylum.
Where to see the movie:
Labia Orange Str.