The White Crow (2018)

The White Crow (2018) is a British film on the early life, and defection to the West from Russia, of Rudolf Nureyev, the ballet dancer. It was inspired by the book, Rudolph Nureyev: The Life, by Julie Kavanagh. I found the film interesting, and it inspired me to do a little research on Nureyev, to learn about his later life in the West.

The title of the film, the White Crow, is the nickname given to Nureyev in his childhood. It is the Russian term for an outsider, unusual, extraordinary, not like others. This does describe Nuyerev, as he is also said to have been narcissistic. This kind of personality certainly would not have been able to fit happily into the rigid Socialist system of Russia at that time.

The film is directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also plays Alexander Ivanovich Pushkin, the ballet master who encouraged Rudolf Nureyev in his career in Russia. The direction leaves a little to be desired, but Ralph Fiennes’ portrayal of Pushkin is appropriate.

Oleg Ivenko as Nureyev performs a lot of ballet dancing. Apparently, Nureyev didn’t have perfect technique, but then, who does? What he did have is almost more important: charisma and stage presence. I’m not qualified to judge Ivenko’s technique, but his performance and stage presence seemed adequate for the part. There was a lot of ballet dancing, as one would expect. I would have liked to see a little less of Ivenko and more of the other dancers in the film. Male ballet dancers are impressive with their leaps and bounds, but it seems to add to their performance when they dance with a ballerina.

One thing I did learn from this film, that I didn’t know: Nureyev was born on a Trans-Siberian train near Irkutsk, Siberia. His early career was with the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, which I gathered, is where Pushkin came in, and Pushkin allowed Nureyev to live with him and his wife. Nureyev must have been bisexual, because it appeared he had sex with Pushkin’s wife. Pushkin seems to have accepted it.

The film’s depiction of the 1961 defection is pretty accurate, and although the defection was low key, does convey the tension around it. Rudolph Nureyev apparently was the first Soviet artist to defect to the West, and the whole affair was a huge sensation internationally.

This film is not a great sensation; nor one I would recommend unless you like watching male ballet dancers perform in tights.

Rudolph Nureyev had an illustrious career in the West. He danced with the British Royal Ballet Company, and the Paris Opera Ballet, being appointed Artistic Director in 1983. He died from AIDS complications in January 1993, aged 54.

Box office as of May 19 2019:   $705,669

6+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

19 thoughts on “The White Crow (2018)”

  1. I know Nureyev and Alexander Godunov but I doubt I know an American ballet dancer.

    Thank you for the review.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  2. I heard a review of this film on NPR.   Their reviewer loved it.

    As far as whether or not I would enjoy it, I think I got a better read from your review.   Thanks.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  3. 9th, when did you give up ballet?

    (Side note: In Japanese Volley and Ballet sound alike because Japanese doesn’t have a “v” sound. The two words are connected in mind.)

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  4. I was SOOOO into ballet in the 70s-80s!  That was when ABT still performed at the old City Center,  and you could still go stand in line to get tickets; they didn’t sell ‘em all out way in advance to outside tours.

    We balletomanes were so excited and dedicated.  I remember one guy, a Willy Loman lookin’ type behind us at the entrance one night at City Center.  “Maybe I’m crazy,” he said, “but I gotta see Bujones tonight!”   ( That was Fernando Bujones, from Argentina or Brazil, can’t remember which.. )

    But ballet wasn’t being marketed like a blockbuster art exhibit that everybody  had to see; it was frequented by people who followed it.

    And during that period, of course, the Soviet Union was like a forcing house for talent in ballet.  It was the only ticket out.  I guess Nureyev was the first, that was a bit before my time.  But the tremendous excitement when Barishnikov came!  And it was merited: I saw him in la Sylphide  at Lincoln Center  right after his defection— the audience gasped and squealed, nobody had ever seen a leap  like that!  Then Makarova…I could go on and on!

    Great ballet movies: White Nights  with Barishnikov and Gregory Hines!  And yes, Black Swan  was great, it really took me back to the period when  ballet was a glorious obsession.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  5. 10 Cents:
    If I made a ballet movie would it be called …

    1. White Swan?
    2. Rascally Raven?
    3. Puce Pelican?
    4. Mauve Magpie?

    Black Swan was already done. Isn’t that close enough? It’s not a movie version of Taleb’s book. 😉

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  6. drlorentz:

    10 Cents:
    If I made a ballet movie would it be called …

    1. White Swan?
    2. Rascally Raven?
    3. Puce Pelican?
    4. Mauve Magpie?

    Black Swan was already done. Isn’t that close enough? It’s not a movie version of Taleb’s book. 😉

    Black Swan wasn’t a choice. Is this your first time to take this type of test?

    0

  7. 10 Cents:

    drlorentz:

    10 Cents:
    If I made a ballet movie would it be called …

    1. White Swan?
    2. Rascally Raven?
    3. Puce Pelican?
    4. Mauve Magpie?

    Black Swan was already done. Isn’t that close enough? It’s not a movie version of Taleb’s book. 😉

    Black Swan wasn’t a choice. Is this your first time to take this type of test?

    That’s why I included the words close enough. Is this your first time reading?

    0

  8. drlorentz:

    10 Cents:

    drlorentz:

    10 Cents:
    If I made a ballet movie would it be called …

    1. White Swan?
    2. Rascally Raven?
    3. Puce Pelican?
    4. Mauve Magpie?

    Black Swan was already done. Isn’t that close enough? It’s not a movie version of Taleb’s book. 😉

    Black Swan wasn’t a choice. Is this your first time to take this type of test?

    That’s why I included the words close enough. Is this your first time reading?

    A: Pick 1, 2, 3, or 4.

    B: Isn’t MMI close enough?

    So this is your first time taking this type of test. Good job for your first time out!

    I have read before.

    0

  9. Thanks much 9th District! You may know I am hopelessly enamoured with athletes and I find ballet dancers to be la crème de la crème.

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  10. Hypatia:
    But the tremendous excitement when Barishnikov came!  And it was merited: I saw him in la Sylphide  at Lincoln Center  right after his defection— the audience gasped and squealed, nobody had ever seen a leap  like that!

    Can you find a video of that? I’m unbelievably envious. 🙂

    0

Leave a Reply