Ralph Fiennes Examines Rudolf Nureyev’s Complicated Life in ‘The White Crow’

Variety | 4/18/2019 | Matt Donnelly
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The story of “The White Crow,” Ralph Fiennes’ latest directorial effort, is as topical as anything currently sitting on the desk of a studio head. It tells of a rebellious artist grappling with his sexuality during turbulent political times rife with tensions between the United States and an agitated Russia. But though the upcoming film, which Sony Pictures Classics will release Stateside on April 26, may be weirdly timely, it is actually set nearly 60 years ago and depicts the true tale of late ballet sensation Rudolf Nureyev.

Known for performances that were sinewy and sensual, Nureyev inflamed Cold War tensions when he became one of the first megastars to defect from the Soviet Union in 1961. Once in the United States, the ballet and contemporary dancer and choreographer became a household name, partnering with Margot Fonteyn in acclaimed productions of “Giselle” and “Swan Lake,” appearing on “The Muppet Show” and playing Rudolph Valentino in an ill-fated biopic about the silent screen star. His was a complicated life.

Fiennes - Star - Schindler - List - Harry

Fiennes, the Oscar-nominated star of “Schindler’s List” and the “Harry Potter” franchise, has spent 20 years trying to bring Nureyev’s story to the big screen.

“It’s almost an impossible task to replicate dramatically someone who is so unique,” the director tells Variety. “What struck me was the sheer presentational, charismatic, sexual force of him as a spirit onstage.” Fiennes first became obsessed with the dancer after reading an early version of Julie Kavanagh’s 2007 biography “Nureyev: The Life.”

Subject - Years - Corps - Ballet - Technique

Not unlike his subject, who toiled for years in the corps de ballet perfecting his technique, Fiennes had to overcome considerable hurdles to make the film. He had to contend with everything from shooting technically intricate ballet performances on a modest budget to finding a Russian- and English-speaking leading man who could also convincingly...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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