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The White Crow

Ralph Fiennes

The great Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev is the pirouetting pivot of Ralph Fiennes’ hypnotising biopic The White Crow. Written by legendary playwright David Hare utilising Julie Kavanagh’s 2007 biography Rudolf Nureyev: The Life, this film itself is structured like a dance. It steps back and forth in time to tell the story of this incredible talent who, through self-confidence, commitment and desire, pushed himself to become the world’s greatest ballet dancer.

"Steps back and forth in time to tell the story of this incredible talent..."

In early 1960s Paris, the Cold War may be raging, but Soviet authorities have decided to send their finest dance troupe to the City of Light to demonstrate the cultural refinement behind the Iron Curtain. Though the Kirov Ballet is set to wow audiences, one man causes a sensation that reverberates far beyond the stage: the electrifying young dancer Rudolf Nureyev. Devastatingly handsome and culturally ravenous, Nureyev (Ukrainian dancer Oleg Ivenko, in an astonishing screen debut) immediately falls in love with the city. Much to the annoyance of his KGB minders, he makes daily pilgrimages to the Louvre and frequents the city’s jazz bars with a Chilean heiress (Adèle Exarchopoulos), which leads to a pivotal awakening.

We discover Nureyev’s origins: his birth on a Trans-Siberian train; his youth and early schooling, where his temper and uncompromising attitude marked him as a troublemaker, and the initial stirrings of his sexuality. Richly evoking the times on atmospheric 16mm, director Ralph Fiennes brings texture and emotional shading to this portrait of a brilliant, inscrutable man whose talent and temperament saw him rock the worlds of ballet and international relations.