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Ralph Fiennes' ‘The White Crow’ was inspired by the book ‘Rudolf Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanaugh’. The drama charts the iconic dancer's famed defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop him.
Written by legendary playwright David Hare, the film is structured like a dance, stepping back and forth in time and moving in circles to tell the story of this Russian who was born on a train, and who, through self-confidence, commitment and desire, pushed himself to become the world’s greatest ballet dancer.
Fiennes focuses on Nureyev’s relentless ambition, with the fabulous ballet sequences just the prelude to what is a tense Cold War ballet that centres around a thrilling final scene at Paris’ Le Bourget Airport in 1961: the first defection of a Soviet artist during the Cold War period.
Ukrainian ballet dancer Oleg Ivenko plays the lead in his very first film role, and a demanding one at that, delivering lines in a mix of Russian and thickly accented English. He does a great job at portraying the fiery ego that Nureyev was famed for, aided by his intense blue eyes and heavy brow.
Director Fiennes also steps to the other side of the camera, playing dance instructor Alexander Pushkin, delivering all his lines in Russian. Not for the first time as New Park regulars will recall, he did the same in ‘Two Women’, which he introduced personally at the 2015 Chichester Film Festival. (Some subtitles)