Story

Rudolf Nureyev (Oleg Ivenko) is born into poverty and raised in war-torn USSR. He falls in love with ballet as a young boy and, with the help of his ballet instructor Pushkin (Ralph Fiennes), he struggles his way to the top of the ballet scene in Russia.

In his early 20s, Rudolf and his ballet company travel to Paris, where he’s captivated by the freedom and beauty of the West. As he becomes more famous in Paris, Rudolf also becomes increasingly unwilling to follow Russian rules. He stays out late and fraternises with ‘foreigners’ from the West. As the company prepares to depart on its next trip to London, Soviet handlers and KGB agents stop Rudolf and tell him he must instead fly to Russia to perform at a gala.

Rudolf knows that his behaviour in Paris has led the Soviet government to see him as a threat. This means they’re likely to jail or kill him. So Rudolf does the only thing he can – he defects.

Themes

Poverty; child abandonment; substance use; sexuality; political asylum-seeking

Violence

The White Crow has some violence. For example:

  • Several Soviet agents aggressively try to grab Rudolf.
  • Rudolf threatens Soviet agents with a letter opener.

Sexual references

The White Crow has some sexual references. For example:

  • There are numerous references to homosexual interactions.
  • Several scenes show nude art.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The White Crow shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Characters frequently smoke.
  • Characters drink wine and spirits.
  • A female character describes taking valium following the death of her boyfriend.

Nudity and sexual activity

The White Crow has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • There is some full-frontal male nudity.
  • Women expose their breasts during a provocative cabaret dance. They also slap each other’s bottoms.
  • A female character gropes a man’s genitals while she guides his hand down her shirt. The scene suggests they have sex.
  • Two men are naked in bed together. It looks like they’ve had sex.
  • Numerous people of both genders kiss each other.

Product placement

There’s no product placement of concern in The White Crow.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in The White Crow.

Ideas to discuss with your children

The White Crow is a biopic about the late Rudolf Nureyev, who was one of the greatest male ballet dancers of his generation. The movie follows his rise to fame and subsequent defection from the USSR to the West.

Presented mostly in Russian with English subtitles, this movie has several strong moments and performances, particularly from Oleg Ivenko, who plays Rudolf. But overall the movie lacks good pacing and a strong narrative.

The White Crow isn’t recommended for children under 13 years because of its frequent nudity, adult themes (particularly related to Rudolf’s defection) and lack of interest. We recommend parental guidance for children up to 15 years.

The main messages from this movie are that hard work and perseverance are important if you want to succeed. The movie also emphasises being true to yourself, even if this means going against the rules.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • being a good friend and supporting friends in times of need
  • working hard to achieve goals.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:

  • bullying behaviour towards friends and others
  • sexuality and safe sexual relationships.