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The White Crow (2018)

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The story of Rudolf Nureyev's defection to the West.


Ralph Fiennes


David Hare (screenplay), Julie Kavanagh (Inspired by her book: "Rudolf Nureyev: The Life")
426 ( 914)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Oleg Ivenko ... Rudolf Nureyev
Ralph Fiennes ... Pushkin
Louis Hofmann ... Teja Kremke
Adèle Exarchopoulos ... Clara Saint
Sergei Polunin ... Yuri Soloviev
Olivier Rabourdin ... Alexinsky
Raphaël Personnaz ... Pierre Lacotte
Chulpan Khamatova ... Xenia
Zach Avery ... Michael Jones
Mar Sodupe ... Helena Romero
Calypso Valois Calypso Valois ... Claire Motte
Aleksey Morozov Aleksey Morozov ... Strizhevsky
Nebojsa Dugalic ... Konstantin Sergeyev
Igor Filipovic Igor Filipovic ... Trofimkin
Yves Heck ... Jagaud-Lachaume


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 Anonymous B

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In 1961, A Dazzling Rudolf Nureyev Arrives in Paris and Makes a Choice That Changes His Life Forever


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality, graphic nudity, and language. | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



UK | France | Serbia


Russian | English | French

Release Date:

22 March 2019 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The White Crow See more »

Filming Locations:

France See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$78,782, 28 April 2019

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Hayden Christensen, who trained extensively in ballet as a child, was first choice to star; however a persistent ankle injury prevented him from being able to perform to the standards demanded by Ralph Fiennes. See more »


In a scene showing a close up of Nureyev's foot performing a tendu, the shoe he is wearing is a white split sole ballet slipper, a shoe that did not exist in the 1960s. Split sole ballet technique shoes have only been on the dance scene since the mid 1990s. See more »


Rudolf Nureyev: 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.
See more »

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User Reviews

Not quite a swan, not a dead duck either
11 May 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

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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