At A Glance
Ralph Fiennes directs the exceptional The White Crow, a film delicately detailing an excerpt into the life of ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, up until his defection to the West.
Directed by Ralph Fiennes
Written by David Hare
Based on the book by Julie Kavanagh
Released by STUDIOCANAL
2019, 127 minutes
In UK Cinemas 22nd March
Oleg Ivenko as Rudolf Nureyev
Ralph Fiennes as Pushkin
Louis Hofmann as Teja Kremke
Adèle Exarchopoulos as Clara Saint
Sergei Polunin as Yuri Soloviev
Chulpan Khamatova as Xenia
The White Crow - UK Premiere Interviews
At the UK Premiere director / actor Ralph Fiennes, actor Oleg Ivenko (Rudolf Nureyev), screenwriter David Hare, and producers Carolyn Marks Blackwood and Gabrielle Tana attend the red carpet hosted at the Curzon Mayfair.
Join Premiere Scene’s Claire Bueno and Anthony Bueno as we ask Ralph Fiennes about the parallels of playing Nureyev’s teacher as well as teaching ballet dancer Oleg Ivenko to screen act in real life. We ask Oleg Ivenko about the differences for him dancing on a stage and delivering a more contained performance for screen. For a story written in a non-linear form, we ask David Hare what made this the most appropriate way to convey Nureyev’s story. And we ask Carolyn Marks Blackwood and Gabrielle Tana about Fiennes uncompromising endeavour for authenticity.
At the BFI LFF 2018 Premiere Scene’s Claire Bueno and Anthony Bueno interview director / actor Ralph Fiennes, lead actor Oleg Ivenko, actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Chulpan Khamatova; and composer Ilan Eshkeri.
The White Crow - Review
By Claire Bueno
Ralph Fiennes directs the exceptional The White Crow, a film delicately detailing an excerpt into the life of ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev up until his defection to the West.
“Without a story to tell you have no reason to dance,” says Rudolf (Rudi) Nureyev, and I expect 20 years ago when Ralph Fiennes read Julie Kavanagh’s Rudolf Nureyev: The Life, little did he know, that within it, he would find a story that he would go on to tightly choreograph.
Having previously directed Coriolanus and The Invisible Woman, The White Crow is the third film that Fiennes helms.
The aptly titled film states the definition of a white crow, its meaning is a Russian idiom referring to someone who is unique, extraordinary and stands out from the crowd, and Rudolf Nureyev certainly epitomises that analogy.
Nureyev was born to defy convention, he was driven to and succeeded in elevating the male role to equal a prima ballerina. As the only boy and having three sisters his senior, did these formative years inadvertently determine and influence his path?
Whilst in Paris the young dancer was consumed by the art and culture. It inspired him and informed him as a performer. But under the close scrutiny of the KGB, this young fledgling on tour with Kirov Ballet Company was about to get his wings clipped.
For a filmmaker like Fiennes authenticity is key. He does not provide a sanitised version of the man. He does not shy away from revealing the less desirable character traits of the dancer; the film reveals a complex, self-assured individual, relentless in his pursuit of self-perfection.
Screenwriter David Hare has skilfully crafted a non-linear story in which we will journey to three specific chapters in Rudi’s life; Paris 1961, where he will make his life changing decision; his training in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) 1955-1961; and back to his impoverished childhood in 1940s Ufa.
Not only does interspersing these timelines provide a more engaging form of story-telling, but this also allows for the filmmakers to offer contrasting visual styles.
As well as directing the film, Fiennes plays the supporting role of Nureyev’s teacher Alexander Pushkin. Having interviewed him previously for Two Women I had already witnessed the actor competently deliver an emotive performance whilst mastering Russian dialogue.
Perhaps life imitates art as Pushkin teaches Nureyev, Fiennes takes ballet dancer Oleg Ivenko who plays Rudi, under his wing to teach him the craft of screen acting. Regardless as to my theory Ivenko takes flight with the character and delivers a believable portrayal, for me, I was looking at Rudolf Nureyev.
What is also gratifying from The White Crow as with all good films about iconic historic figures, is that it justly satisfies what you want to know for the story needs, but it also leaves you wanting to go on your own voyage of discovery and learn more, be it about the person, the period or the politics.