The White Crow (2018) - full transcript

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

You knew


You knew what he was
planning to do


You're saying he never
spoke of defection?

The subject never came up

He never spoke of it?


This is an attack

upon the Soviet Union


It's about dance


He knows nothing about politics

He's gone to the West because
there he can dance

He could dance here

Yes, but...

I think it's likely he had
an explosion of character

That's who he is

Mother will recover

After immigration return your passport

Thank you

- Thank you
- Nice to meet you

We are delighted to be here

Where are you off to?

For a walk

Want me to come with you?

Class in two hours

I won't forget

Keep an eye on him




Glory of the French Republic,
Paris 1883

- One more?
- Yes

Where are you from?

I have a place , I'm dancing!

Have you seen the list?

I haven't looked

It's posted

I still haven't looked

Don't you want to know?
Sergeyev's not giving you the first night

Rudi, I'm very sorry

What difference does it make?

It's not going to take long

What's not going to take long?

Until everyone knows who I am


Arms soft. Soft arms

Leningrad Choreographic School

What are you doing here?

Are you in charge?

I'm Valentin Ivanovich Shelkov

I'm Rudolf Nureyev

I'm here to dance

Are you out of your head?

I've been accepted as a pupil

I've come from Ufa


You've got the wrong date

Come back in a week

This is where you will all be living

Young man, turn your head

And lower your shoulder

For the feet

It's not working for me

What do you mean?

What I say

It's not working

The school is not for you?

You only arrived a few weeks ago

Four weeks

The Leningrad Choreographic School

is thought to be the greatest
ballet institute in the world

You're the first pupil to complain

Shelkov says your
technique is inadequate

You lack control. You're clumsy

We know you're talented

but you're old

That's why I have to catch up

You're way behind

I'm seventeen.
I have to do six years' work in three

Well? What's stopping you?

I'm ready to work

But not with Shelkov,
is that what you mean?

Ballet is about rules

It's about discipline.
It has to be

That means it's about obedience

Only through discipline
can you find freedom

I'd rather die than live
under the rules

One day you might be good
enough to say that

You're not good enough yet

Far from it

I believe I would progress
faster with another teacher

Which teacher do you
have in mind?

- Hello
- Hello

- You're Rudolf Nureyev?
- Yes

I'm Alexander Ivanovich Pushkin

You'll find some space over there

Take a bow

- Is everybody warmed up?
- Yes

Boys, as usual, two demi pliés and

one grand plié in each position

Get ready


Bend back, further back

Hold your back straight

Fifth position

Assemblé, Assemblé

Assemblé sauté, Assemblé sauté

Brisé forwards, Brisé backwards

Two brisé. En changement

Sleep, sleep, sleep



Come back later

The Raft?

I want The Raft to myself.

Rudik! Come and join in!

Come over here

Are you alright?


Here, let me help you

Am I pleasing you?

I'm sorry?

You never say anything to me


I just want to know if I'm
pleasing you

You don't displease me

Is that all you'll say?

Listen, you're an intelligent man

Work it out for yourself

When you please me, you'll know

Steps have a logic

You need
to find that logic

not to force it

One step follows another, with no
impression of haste

Or effort

Steps follow. And belong


are interconnected

Thank you


This is impossible

Why aren't we talking to each other?

This is ridiculous



Ladies, fouettés please

How was your class?

We have various outings planned

All the main sights

The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower,
Notre Dame

Organised trips

That's nice

You haven't forgotten the
company meeting

before we left Leningrad?

I never miss a meeting

We agreed

we go together

on the bus

Shall I put you down?

Yes of course

My husband said you've not
been looking after yourself

I brought you some soup

It's not bad

He said you don't eat
with the others

A dancer needs to
look after his body

He says you react like an animal
who's been brought into the house

I didn't know
he'd noticed me

Oh yes, he's noticed you

This is French onion soup

Not quite how they make it in Paris

Not the right cheese

You've been to Paris?


Have you been to London?

I've only read about them

Which city is better?
Paris or London?

Better for what?

Better for life?
Better for ballet?


They say Paris is more beautiful
but London is special too

People know more about ballet?


Your husband is a good man

I think so

His class is two holy hours

Eat the soup

Don't worry, you will see
Paris one day


I'll come back soon

Thank you

Thank you

You were spectacular!

This is my friend, Clara Saint

It was wonderful!

Rudi, are you coming with us?

Not now

That's a pity

what did you see?

You came


Hello. Cakes

Thank you. Come in

Don't be shy

Everyone, attention

This is Rudolf Nureyev

We met at the Leningrad Choreographic

School's graduation evening

He's a dancer

Hello everybody


And also he says he's been going to
the Hermitage every day

- He goes to the Hermitage every day?
- Yes

And I told him a lot of us
spend time in the Hermitage

And that we all like to meet every
Sunday afternoon

a whole lot of us to talk, to talk about

all sorts of things

life, art, science

and that he would be very
welcome to join us

I won't stay long

Stay as long as you like.
Everyone else does

I don't want to be a trouble

You're no trouble

This is my brother Leonid,
we are twins


Your sister started telling
me about Rembrandt

I want to find out as much as I can


Leonid's a student at the
Polytechnic, like me

I will have a drink and then go

No. Have a drink and stay

- C'mon sit with us
- C'mon, c'mon

It's a good time. There's
never been a better time

What, just because we're
going to send a man into space?

If you think about it

the Soviet Union's not even
fifty years old

and yet we've caught up

Ahead of the Americans!

Yes, ahead of the
Americans, yes!

We went through terrible times

But they're over

The bad times are
behind us now

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van

Rijn, born in Leiden 1606

One of nine children

Father a miller, mother
a baker's daughter

Introduces a new style of portraiture

Sir, our shop...


Are you all right?

Yes of course, why?

Rudik, your Father has returned

Come and greet him

I was wondering if perhaps
you'd care to eat with us

Eat at your home?

I've spoken to Alexander
Ivanovich about it

I'm afraid our quarters
are very modest

He wants me to come?

We're here

Come in

Ah Rudolf, yes, good

Please, there's no need
for you to get up

I want to get up. And anyway
you're here to eat

Over here


Xenia tells me she's
been looking after you

I hope you don't mind

Why would I mind?

I am of course interested...

Thank you

do you ever think about

the purpose of dance?

- The purpose?
- Yes

Nobody thinks about this

It's true

Why dance?

To take the audience
somewhere else

Somewhere new

Yes of course

But why?


Just that?

Is life that awful then?

And escape to what?

You see, all the time I'm
teaching technique

That's all I do


it is good to remember

technique is only a means

not an end

"Oh he leapt perfectly"

So what?

"Oh she raised an arm
it was perfect"


We spend so much time on technique

It's all we think about

What should we think about?


What story do we
wish to tell?

Why do so few people
ask themselves:

"What do I wish to say?"

You need to let your feelings
pour out

Let's stop here

Be more expressive
with your body

Sit down

I received this letter


I am being sent to the Ministry of Culture

of the Bashkirian Soviet Socialist Republic

to apply there for future work

Yes. So?

This will kill me

I don't want to go

It doesn't matter what you want

Do you know that I've been
offered three different places?

I didn't know that

With three different

The Bolshoi wants me

One day you can go to
the Bolshoi in Moscow

Why not?

But first

you have to go
and dance in Ufa

If I go to Ufa, I'll never
go to the Bolshoi

I'll be too old

Who do you think paid for
your education?

Your parents?


The State paid for you

Soviet people

Isn't it time you did them
the favour of saying thank you?

Artists have responsibilities
just like everyone else

What, you think
you're above society?

Go on, tell me

For three years you've only taken

Now you have to give something back

I give back on the stage

Yes, in Moscow, in Leningrad,
you're happy to go there

But what's wrong with Ufa?

Do you look down
on the people?


Your little home town

I give something no one
else can give

Well? Who made you?

Where do you come from?
Who raised you?

How can you be like that?

Why are you looking
so miserable?

You know very well

Everyone knows

I want you to dance
with me, Rudi



At the Kirov, where else?

Did no one tell you?
I've been ordered back home

To Ufa

Forget about that

What are you saying?

I went to Moscow to plead

I'm asking if you want
to join the Kirov

Not in the corps de ballet

Partnering me


A younger man...

... and older woman.
Always a good combination

I'll make you look talented,

you'll make me look young

Shall we try?

Wait. Explain.
What happened?

Somebody spoke
on your behalf

- Who?
- It's not important

Just be grateful

How? How did they do it?

Not by spitting
in anyone's face

Artistic strategy, Rudi

Thank you

Hold my wrist, and
then my hip

Like that

Little closer.
Play please

One, tow, thee, four, and turn

Look, look in my eyes

Carry on, soft elbows, carry on
one, two, thee, four

What happened?

Are you here to ask
stupid questions?

- No.
- Everyone knows what happened

I fell

I fell!

I'm going to get
you out of here

You're going to
leave hospital

You need personal care

They say I won't dance
for two years

They're wrong

And don't look at
me like that


It's impossible

No. We'll do it

We'll live together
until you're well

I'll look after you

Good night

Good night

Give me a hand

Wait for me here



It was bound to happen

Sooner or later


It's not right

You need to do it

Good evening

Join me

You've got to be
fair to me, Rudi

I want to get to
bed earlier

And, what?

You think I bear
down on you?

Doesn't it occur to you? I have
someone bearing down on me

They're all over me

And they are much less
pleasant than I am

Look at it through my eyes

I'm trying

They want to know why
I'm putting up with it

You don't just damage yourself
with your behaviour

You endanger me

Is that it?


It's not

You go out every evening
with this...

Chilean girl

She's a friend

You go and watch
naked girls?

It's fun, Vitaly Dimitrivich


And wealth is fun, is it?


She's going to inherit a
fortune, is that right?

You like that, do you?

You like it

You like the
capitalist life?

You stay out all night
walking with her

We've a lot to talk about

Not just her


Western dancers...

Western intellectuals

Rudi, it's bedtime


They're just as late as I am

Why aren't you talking to them?

Because I'm speaking to you.
You have a record

I'm not interested
in politics

How long will you dance?

How long?

How many years?

How long do you
see yourself dancing?




And you want to travel
abroad in the future,

you want to show the
world what you can do?

This could be your last trip

If we decided to bring
a charge against you

What charge can you bring?


Don't test our ingenuity

This is a formal warning

I'm saying it so that when
we get back to Moscow,

I can say: I gave him
a formal warning

5.15 a.m

May 27th

01:12:06,542 --> 01:12:07,712

Tea is ready

We need to get you
some decent clothes

You're a leading
dancer at the Kirov

come on

Good luck!

You see, I told you...

You're right.

The line isn't right

I'm not as good a dancer, but...

even I can do it

The leg should be straighter


And the head should
be higher. Far back


I can do better

That was magnificent!

You've never danced better

Did you feel the injury?


You see I said I would cure you


We can walk home together

Do you think we can do that?

You're only guilty if you choose to be

I don't choose to be

See you at home

Why are you still there?

It's his wife?

Pushkin puts up with it because
he's too weak to say no

You like it, don't you?


Why would I dream
of another world?

The fish for Mademoiselle

And for Monsieur,
the steak

I hope you like them

How can I help?

I'm sorry.
Just give us a moment

What is your problem?

That's ridiculous


No, no, not like that


What did you say?


Are you talking about me?

What's wrong with you?

How dare you?

You're not in
this ballet

You have no
right to be here

Rudi, please

Why are you here?

Konstantin Mikhailovich is
the Senior Ballet Master

with the Kirov

He can attend any
rehearsal he chooses



As it happens I wasn't
speaking about you

But if I want to speak, I will

The work we're doing is difficult

It's far too difficult for you

Rudi, please

You are too old

It's out of your range

You're not good enough

You see that door

Close it. And be on the
other side when you do

Konstantin Mikhailovich,
I apologise

- Go!
- Take no notice

I am not continuing
until you go


That's not how you pack a suitcase.
Here, let me do it

I'll pack my own suitcase!
You're stifling me!

You're killing me!
The two of you!

I was trying to help

I'm home

I don't know what's
been happening,

but there's an atmosphere

Leave it, sweet-pea.
It doesn't matter

You're going to go to
Paris Rudi...

and then you'll
go to London...

and you're going to
be transformed

You have a special talent

but that's going to isolate you

So you have to
fight that isolation

There's no such thing as a human being
who's not dependent on anyone

I'm going out

Today there is a third era

The era of Rudolf Nureyev

I am honoured to present the Nijinsky Prize...

to the brilliant young Soviet dancer,
Rudolf Nureyev

Thank you very much

No, no, not tonight. You're not going out

Excuse me, miss

Why not? I don't understand

Tonight you stay with the group

What's going on?
This is ridiculous, it's my birthday!

Let them have some fun!

Now come on. This isn't funny

Vitaly Dimitrivich, it's our last night in Paris

No, you've had your fun

What are you going to do?
Not good publicity, is it?

Come on, be reasonable,
it's our last night here


No later than two.
And you're in charge of him

Yes, thank you

Thank you

All right, Rudi,
let's go

We're already late.
Time to go

The bus doesn't leave
till the morning

I promised to Strizhevsky

Break your promise

It's up to you

- Good night
- Good night

- Good night
- Good night

Rudi, before you go I just need a word

What is it?

Come over here, I'll tell you

We just got a telegram this morning

Khrushchev wants you to fly back to Moscow

for a special gala

A gala?

Yes, it's a great honour

to perform for the First Secretary

But I'm going to London

Later, later

The new plan is: you'll join the company

later in London

- No. I'm going right now.
- No

You are going to Moscow first

I'm not going to Moscow


Whatever happens,
I'm not going to Moscow

You stay here now. Wait a little with

There's a flight to Moscow in two hours

Are you coming?

No. I'm going to London

Then who is going with me?
Which other dancer?

Who's dancing with me?

You are going to Moscow alone

No I'm not going. I'd rather kill myself

Is there some kind of problem?

Rudi, let's discuss this

I'm going to scream
at the top of my voice

Konstantin, please
make your way to the gate

My mother is ill?!

What is this?
You keep changing the story

First I'm dancing for Khrushchev then
my mother is ill?

No! No! You played this trick before

on other dancers!

They're trying to send me to Moscow,
they're trying to send me to prison

Rudi, are you sure?

- Of course I'm sure. I'm a dead man.
- Rudi, believe me,

- it's better to do what they ask.
- No!

Rudi, you'll be OK,
we'll see you in London

You're never going to see me again!

Rudi, I'm sure it's a misunderstanding.
It's a mistake

It's not a mistake.
They won't let me dance!

Come on, go to the gate

Please, go to the gate

Rudi, I promise you, I'll tell everyone
so they know what's happening

It will be all right

Go to the gate immediately

I've seen what's happening.
Can I help?

Look, I have to stay here
he's safe as long as I'm here

I'll give you a telephone number...

Be discreet...

Tell her to come here
as quickly as possible

I'm sorry, I can't get through

And now I'm too late
I have to leave

- You can't go now!
- I'm sorry


Ring this number,
tell her to come at once

OK, who is it?

Someone who can help

Rudi, take a seat. We have some time.
Don't worry

Clara, I can't leave him here

Airport Police

Office 3

Come in


Has nobody told you?
You have a situation down there

Tell me

There's a Russian dancer down there.
He wants to defect

- A dancer?
- Yes

Who is he?

Rudolf Nureyev.
You've heard of him?

- Rudolf Nureyev?
- Yes

Are you sure he's a dancer?

If he's a scientist this could get difficult

He's not a scientist

How do you know?

I saw him dancing last night.
He didn't dance like a scientist

- Who are you?
- Clara Saint

I'm a personal friend of Andre Malraux



So what do I do?

Will you come down?

Are there any Russian Agents down there?

Yes, he's surrounded

In that case, he's going to have to
surprise them

In this situation, there are laws. We must

obey them. There's a protocol

We are not allowed to approach him

He has to approach us

Excuse me ,I'm from Le Figaro.
Do you know what is happening?

No. I don't know

Two cups of coffee please

That's enough

We are in France here


Step back!


Do you realize what you've done?

The Russians will kill him

One moment

Very well. I made a mistake

I've re-booked you

You just want to dance,
that's what you say

You're on the next flight to London


Rudi, you'll join the company in London


I think I've got to know you
in the last few weeks

I understand you

A little bit

And I like you

I know where you've come from
how hard you've struggled

I know how much you love your mother.
Your family

Can you look your mother in the eyes...

and tell her...

I betrayed you

I betrayed the Soviet Union?

Your family will become pariahs

You won't just destroy your own life

I know that

Leave the Soviet Union now
and you will spend your whole life in disgrace

You'll never get back.
Never see your home again



Never return home

An hour ago, you made a mistake.
In panic

I'm offering you the chance to put it right

Think about it

Think about it

If he decides to stay,
I'll need you

There's a lot of press down there,
you'll have to deal with them

- Does he have somewhere to live?
- I can find somewhere

I know people who will take him

You'll need more than one place
move him every 48 hrs

Look how dirty you are

You have to wash your hands

And paste down your hair

How you look is very important

Go and change over there

Now please

you have to leave

He has to do this alone

Is this Romeo and Juliet?
Is he staying for love?

What? Were you dropped on your head?

Where is he now?
Is he still in the building?

He'll be tried for treason in his absence

I'm very ashamed

I'm ashamed of Nureyev

I'm ashamed of myself

All right?


His suitcase came back

I'll get supper

Hello, darling

You're all over the papers

You're famous

Any regrets?

Has he called you?

Is he going to call you?


He hasn't yet? Why not?

Because that's not who he is

Good morning