White Nights

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"Two men. Not soldiers. Not heroes. Just dancers. Willing to risk their lives for freedom-and each other."
  • PG-13
  • 1985
  • 2 hr 16 min
  • 6.6  (8,165)
  • 46

White Nights is a 1985 film directed by Taylor Hackford and starring an ensemble cast led by Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, and Jerzy Skolimowski. The movie tells the story of a famous Soviet ballet dancer named Nikolai Rodchenko (Baryshnikov), who defected to the United States years earlier and is forced to return to the Soviet Union when his plane makes an emergency landing in Leningrad.

Upon his arrival, Nikolai is immediately under suspicion by the KGB, who have been tracking his whereabouts in America for years. He is interrogated by a KGB agent named Chaiko (Skolimowski), who wants to know whether Nikolai will use his celebrity status to criticize the Soviet government or promote American propaganda. Nikolai is understandably wary of the KGB, but he also wants to use the opportunity to reconnect with his family, as well as his former dance partner Galina Ivanova (Helen Mirren).

Meanwhile, an American tap dancer named Raymond Greenwood (Hines) is on tour in Moscow, where he witnesses a group of men attacking a woman in the streets. He intervenes and comes to the aid of the woman, who turns out to be Darya, Nikolai's wife. The two men later meet and strike up a friendship over their shared love of dance. Raymond confesses that he has been struggling with his career and hasn't been able to connect with his audience in the same way that Nikolai does. Nikolai, in turn, admires Raymond's ability to improvise and connect with his emotions in a way that he never could.

The two men eventually end up performing together in a show that Galina has arranged. Their duet is a beautiful and electrifying blend of tap and ballet, and it wins over the audience. However, their moment of triumph is short-lived when they discover that Nikolai has been accused of espionage by the KGB, who have planted evidence to make it seem like he is working for the Americans. Nikolai is arrested and sentenced to death, and Raymond is forced to return to America.

The rest of the movie follows Raymond's attempts to clear Nikolai's name and save his life, with the help of Darya and Galina. They travel to Leningrad and try to find evidence that will exonerate Nikolai, but they are constantly followed and harassed by the KGB. In the end, they are able to find a witness who can prove that Nikolai was not involved in espionage and convince the Soviet government to release him.

White Nights is a beautifully filmed and emotionally resonant drama about the power of dance to transcend cultural and political barriers. The performances by Baryshnikov, Hines, and the rest of the cast are top-notch, and the movie's climactic dance sequence is a breathtaking display of athleticism and grace. Hackford masterfully navigates the complex political and social issues at the heart of the film, while also delivering a compelling and entertaining story. Overall, White Nights is a classic of 1980s cinema and a must-see for fans of dance, drama, and international cinema.

White Nights is a 1985 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 16 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.6 and a MetaScore of 46.

White Nights
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 16 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.6  (8,165)
  • Metascore