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Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 10/23/2007 Run time: 136 minutes Rating: Pg13
Sometimes movies are built around a great idea begging for a story, in this case pairing ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov with tap great Gregory Hines. The resulting storm of dance in White Nights, as one would expect, is great, but the story is a little forced. Baryshnikov plays (in parallel to his own life) a Russian defector to the U.S. who ends up a prisoner in the motherland after his plane is forced to land in Leningrad during an emergency. Hines is an American expatriate who gets involved with the situation. Director Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman) punctuates an escape scenario and relationship dilemmas with as many dance sequences as possible, and the result is a wobbly, unconvincing tale with some furious footwork. Fortunately, performances carry the day, as the two male leads are both very strong as actors, and the supporting cast--Isabella Rossellini, Helen Mirren, and filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski (Moonlighting)--is terrific. --Tom Keogh
- Outstanding movie
This movie does have remarkable dance scenes as one would imagine. That said, the story was very compelling and I found that even though the movie was well over two hours in length, I was absorbed into the action and it seemed to be over too soon! The movie is one of a handful from the 1980s that I have watched numerous times and enjoyed it every time!...more info
- 2.5 stars out of 4
The Bottom Line:
A strange and ultimately unsustainable marraige of Cold War thriller and dance movie, White Nights features some very impressive dance scenes and a spectacular plane crash, but never is able to sustain the high level of believability necessary to make its genre-fusion palatable....more info
- Summer Nights
I love it that this is out in DVD so everyone can watch it over and over to see how these dancers work out and get in shape and see their joy in dancing. I was amazed at Baryshnikov's flexibility, when he does the splits on the floor, against the wall, and the strength of the jumps of both dancers. Hines' footwork was really beautiful, too. Being a dance devotee, I am always very impressed with the way dancers work so hard, and you could see it here. The movie had a fun plot that was serious, too. You knew it would end up okay but it made you think. The music was excellent and upbeat, too, as well as the scenes of Russia and the theater. I'm happy to have this in my permanent collection, because it's really a classic for dance fans....more info
- I have a question on the music
I know we are supposed to review... so I will. The best parts of the movie were when Baryshnikov dances. He's actually a pretty decent actor as well. Mr. Hines' performance was grating to my nerves as was his character. The ending to the movie was somewhat contrived. It was hard to "suspend my disbelief" long enough to not laugh at the story.
However, I do have a question, in case anyone ever reads these. In the sequence where Baryshnikov dances on the stage before his ex-girlfriend, she is listening to a piece of music that I really liked. I didn't catch the name of the composer or whatever. Does anyone know who that was? If you do, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- The endless night...
Taylor Hackford's "White Nights" is definitely one of my favorite movies ever. I signed up like two years ago to be notified of the release of this movie on DVD and bought it right away when it became available on Amazon. Nikolai Rodchenko (Mikhail Baryshnikov) is a young and somewhat spoiled Russian ballet legend whose multiple successes in his motherland couldn't match his need for freedom and a life outside the unbearable perennial watch of the Soviet communist regime. So he chooses to defect to the United States where he becomes a major celebrity at the height of the Cold War tensions between the two countries. When traveling from London to Tokyo for a series of presentations, Rodchenko's plane malfunctions and is forced to perform an emergency landing on Russian soil. Nikolai will eventually be caught by the KGB and taken secretly back to Leningrad despite protests from the West. Being as he is, a glory of the Russian ballet, Rodchenko is forced to stay in the URSS and to resume his life as usual. He is put under strict surveillance by the KGB and assigned an accompanying couple, the Greenwood's, who are supposed to inform Rodchenko's whereabouts 24/7 to the soviet intelligence. Raymond Greenwood (Gregory Hines) is an African American tap dancer who tired of living a life of struggle for social and economic betterment in the U.S., voluntarily chose to very publicly "defect" to the URSS in opposition to the War in Vietnam. However flashy his "defection" was -and utterly publicized by the Russians- years have passed and Raymond is now just limited to small performances in little towns around Siberia, still living the life of an underprivileged man, but in the URSS. He married Darya (Isabella Rossellini), a Russian girl who loves him adoringly but who also, to much of her dismay, sometimes cannot hold up against Raymond's frustrations and personal demons. Interaction between Nikolai and Raymond becomes the main subject of the film and Nikolai will make Raymond realize how limited and hopeless life is in the URSS and eventually the three of them will seek a way to return to the United States. The film shows beautiful moving scenes such as the one where a drunk Raymond opens himself up to Nilokai in a heartfelt tap-dance-backed-up monologue, giving an impressively moving and honest performance. It shocks me everytime I watch it. Or my other favorite dancing scene, where Nilokai meets his former lover Galina Ivanova (Helen Mirren) at the stage of the Kirov Theater. Galina has now become a prominent figure of the Soviet Ballet nomenklatur. Together they will reminish about past love and life, and dancing to the passionate lyrics of Vladimir Vysotsky a famous Russian protest poet-singer, Nikolai will desperately and hopelessly try to explain her (and perhaps once more, also to himself) why he had to leave his whole life behind. In the process, he will also try to ease the inner pain of longing for his roots, history and identity. Dancing sequences performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines (both solos and as an ensemble) are incredibly moving and beautiful. Choreographies are Baryshnikov's, Hines's and even there is an incredibly moving opening segment choreographed by Twayla Tharp "The young man and the death" performed by Baryshnikov himself and Florence Faure who will leave you speechless. The music is great (I particularly remember the sticky rhythmic beat of "My love is chemical" by Lou Reed). Despite the obvious age that the picture shows "White Nights" is a beautiful movie, with spectacular dancing sequences, definitely worth watching. Personally to me it is certainly a pity that the whole story is still as appealing as it was twenty years ago. Forced migration was certainly an issue back then in 1985 as it continues to be today. Still in 2007 there are people who are virtually obligated to migrate from their own countries when civil liberties are not in force or about to perish. Just turn your head and watch the horrific example of Cuban "balseros", people who prefer to risk their lives in shark-infected waters seeking the coast of Florida instead of living a freedomless life of craving and need under the communist regime of Fidel Castro. So yes, in a time of a suppousedly "end of ideologies", "White Nights" is a movie that has a well established political posture and yet is also undeniably interesting and moving to watch and enjoy time and time again. ...more info
- A Gem!
I think that this is one of the best movies of the 80's. The dance sequences alone are worth seeing the film. However, I think the story is also a good one.
- Fantastic movie :-)
I remember seeing this at the theatre so many years ago and even as a kid, I knew I loved it. I have always loved dance and so this back then was a main draw for me. But now as an adult, I can really truly appreciate the talent of Mikhail Baryshnikov ('Koyla') and Gregory Hines (Raymond). These guys are/were legends.
As a kid, I didn't understand/care for the political side of the movie (why they wanted to get out of Russia), but I get it now and it makes the story so much more than about dance only. It is such a great film, that while dated now, is still very enjoyable and great to re-watch again and show to younger people as well to see these genius' dance together. I can't wait to throw away my VHS copy and replace it by this long awaited DVD edition....more info
- White Nights
A very good movie with a moving story. As always, Gregory Hines dancing and acting was wonderful and Mikail Baryshnikov was good also....more info
- High Concept, Medium Delivery...
1985's "White Nights" pairs legendary ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and equally legendary tap dancer Gregory Hines in a pedestrian Cold War thriller most notable for the dance sequences and the music score.
Russian defector and former Bolshoi dancer Nikolai Rodchenko (Baryshnikov essentially playing himself) ends up back in Soviet hands when his airliner makes an emergency landing in Leningrad. Overjoyed Soviet officials insist he rejoin the Bolshoi, and park him with American defector Raymond Greenwood (Hines) and his pregnant Russian wife (a young Isabella Rossellini) while he recovers from a minor injury. The KGB tasks Raymond with getting Nikolai ready to dance, but Nikolai is intent on escaping again. An abortive attempt brings him in contact with his former ballet partner (superbly played by Helen Mirren), now a director of the Bolshoi but envious of Nikolai's recent artistic freedom.
Nikolai eventually gains the assistance of both Raymond and his former partner in a scheme to escape; Raymond because he wishes to see his child grow up free, and his former partner because she does not wish to see Nikolai crushed by the Soviet system. The hair-raising escape across Leningrad ends in a dead heat with the pursuing KGB just outside the U.S. Consulate, where tough choices have to be made.
The undoubted highlight of the movie are three dance sequences. One features Baryshnikov's free interpretation of a traditional Russian ballet for his former partner. A second features Raymond's thrilling tap dance to some American music he hasn't heard in years. The third is a fascinating mixed dance sequence by Nikolai and Raymond. The movie score includes the Oscar-winning tune "Say You Say Me" by Lionel Ritchie.
This movie is well-recommended to fans of Baryshnikov and Hines who remember their prime as exceptional dancers. The storyline is somewhat contrived, but an excellent supporting cast helps carry it off.
- white nights
Iwant video white nights with actorjeanmarais and maria Schel...more info
- A Very Likeable Movie
I have been waiting a long time for this to be available on DVD. I saw it on cable and now I look for it every time that it is on.
So it isn't the most critically acclaimed movie ever made. Who cares? Seeing the dancing is reason enough. Everyone here has made much of the opening sequence, which is VERY good, but my favorite has to be the sequence with both dancers together.
I think Gregory Hines rocks, and I personally am looking forward to the day that TAP is ever put on DVD. ...more info
- very entertaining and uplifting movie
This movie showed me a lot. I had no idea Helen Mirren was in this movie. What a movie! Baryshnikov is as always an amzing dancer, but what an actor too. And Gregory Hines is amazing too....more info
- Fantastic !!!
Finally. Two of the greatest dancers of our time on DVD. I saw this movie when I was in college and fell in love. I can't believe what low ratings this has received at other sites. FOOLS ! Maybe the uneducated masses never heard of the Cold War. If you love dance, this movie will soon be a favorite....more info
- For Baryshnikov's fans only.
Sometimes I wonder why Baryshnikov does these movies. This is not as good as Turning Point, and much better than Dancers. But there are some fun moments all the same. One classic moment is when the babushka watching the door gives Baryshnikov the ok to move using just her eyes. Helen Mirren is the best thing in this movie, her character is partly based on the real-life Irina Kolpakova, who guaranteed Baryshnikov's return to the Soviet Union in 1974 from Canada!...more info
- One of my all-time favorites and finally found it on DVD!
The acting's excellent, the music's amazing, and the combination of Mikhail Baryshnikov's--Misha's and Hines' dancing will blow you away. Russian ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov essentially plays himself--a Russian ballet star who escaped the USSR in the 1970's and sought asylum in the US. When a plane carrying him crashes over Russia, he's back in the Soviet net with no escape. His handler is Gregory Hines, a US dancer and US expatriate who renounced his US citizenship.
All Misha wants is to escape. Hines has to 'reform' Misha and make him renounce the US. While the film is somewhat dated for post-Perestroika days, it's still a very worthwhile treatise on loyalty and amazing eye- and ear-candy as well. ...more info
This is the first review I have ever written, that is how strongly I feel about this movie. I first watched this movie in the theater when I was 15. I must have watched it 5 times alltogether. I was mesmorized by the dance sequences. I didn't know how mere mortals could soar and spin even though "this is not ice skating". The story was also gripping and compelling. I have waited for so long for this to come out on DVD and it's finally here. I also thought it had an incredible soundtrack. A must see....more info
- Two Spectacular Performers Dance Around One Weak Cold War Thriller...Literally
Seeing this 1985 movie (dubbed without irony by director Taylor Hackford as a "political dance thriller" in his DVD commentary) over twenty years later in a pristine new print reminds me exactly what I thought about it back then. That is that Hackford recruited two world-class dancers of completely different genres and then went about and contrived a far-fetched Cold War thriller story around them. It is really the unparalleled dancing that makes this film still watchable beginning with Mikhail Baryshnikov's extraordinary performance of Roland Petit's ballet, "Le jeune homme et la mort", opposite Florence Faure over the opening credits. His artful athleticism inevitably makes the rest of his acting feel rather pedestrian, as he unsurprisingly portrays Nikolai Rodchenko, a world-renowned Russian ballet dancer who has defected to the US after having been the leading performer of the Kirov Ballet.
Written by James Goldman, the plot has his character on a Tokyo-bound airliner that's forced to land in Siberia where KGB authorities want to detain him in order to have him stay permanently in his homeland. To help matters along, Colonel Chaiko, the chief Soviet intelligence officer, decides to have Rodchenko live with Raymond Greenwood, a black American who has defected to the Soviet Union because the pervasive racism has not allowed his own artistic freedom. Gregory Hines acquits himself admirably with this impossible role, but more importantly, it simply provides him an excuse to dazzle with his own "tap improvography" (the actual verbiage used in the end credits) in a couple of spectacular tap numbers. The two masters even get to duet twice, and instead of looking incompatible, they are quite stunning as they mesh their divergent styles fluidly.
The rest of the overly long story feels like an old episode of the 1960's TV series, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." where Chaiko plots to convince Rodchenko to stay by reinstating him at the Kirov, which is now under the management of his abandoned lover, Gailna Ivanova. Trust issues arise between the former lovers, and yet another complicating element to his escape is Greenwood's Russian wife Darya who has not fully reconciled with her husband's U.S.-bred values and stays fearful at the possibility of leaving the Soviet Union. The events in the last quarter of the film consist of standard-issue spy thriller clich¨¦s and it all ends in a quite unbelievable manner.
Polish film director Jerzy Skomilowsky portrays Chaiko in an all-too-familiar dastardly manner. Playing Russian women, Isabella Rossellini (in her American film debut) and especially Helen Mirren are convincing, even if their decidedly secondary roles require little more than crying and expressing regrets. At certain moments and I'm sure they are quite intentional, Rossellini emits a glowing innocence similar to her mother Ingrid Bergman in her youth. The estimable Geraldine Page is wasted playing Rodchenko's agitated American manager. The soundtrack brings back nostalgic memories for me, even if the 1980's-style music makes the film feel as dated as the persistently gray images of pre-Gorbachev Russia.
The new 2006 DVD includes a relatively insightful commentary track from Hackford and a nice twenty-minute looking-back featurette which includes remembrances from Hackford, Rossellini and Mirren and a brief tribute to Hines who died in 2003. The original theatrical trailer, a piece of 80's kitsch in itself, is also included as well as previews to unrelated dance-oriented films and DVDs....more info
- The expression of human freedom overcomes totalitarianism
The most important point about "White Nights" is the concept that once the individual refuses to live the totalitarian lie, it will triumph. This is expressed through the Hines/Baryshnikov dance sequences, which are sheer joy to watch. Taken in this context, the movie as a whole (yes, including the storyline) is an important part of the Cold War lexicography. "White Nights" illustrates a fundamental truth: it wasn't military or economic forces that won the Cold War, but the human spirit....more info
- Cool movie!
I had to get this for a dance class i took at CSUF. I thought the movie was pretty cool. If you like dancing movies i would recommend it....more info
- White Nights
Very quick turn around of order. It shipped the next day, and arrived within just a couple of days. It was exactly what was advertised and I was very pleased with my experience....more info
- have been waiting for this DVD for many years!
Great movie, actually decent story for a movie with MB. G. Hines shines like always... Great fusion movie for dance lovers....more info
- White Nights DVD
Fabulous movie---I wasn't certain that I'd be able to find the DVD since it's an older movie....more info
- masters preserved
I searched for this movie on DVD for a long time. It contains performances that should be preserved by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines, two of the masters of dance in this century. And the movie itself is not half bad either....more info
- A dream
Here in Brazil we could not find this DVD anymore. We looked for it a lot. It was my young friend dream to watch WHITE NIGHTS and see his idol and "mentor" to dance and also as a movie star. Now my 16 years old Brazilian dancer is happy and doing his job of studying dance -a hard task for a boy, isn't it? - better than ever!!
- Must have
One of my alltime favorites. The dancing is breathtaking. A must have for a DVD collection....more info
- SUPERB DANCE SEQUENCES AND A GOOD PLOT
THIS FILM IS VERY ENTERTAINING AND WORTH BUYING. THE PLOT CONCERNS A BALLET DANCER WHO GETS BACK IN RUSSIA (HE DEFECTED FROM THERE) WHEN THE PLANE HE'S ON MAKES AN EMERGENCY LANDING. HE IS THEN BULLIED BY A KGB AGENT. HE JOINS FORCES WITH A DANCER TO GET OUT OF THE COUNTRY....more info
- White Nights
This movie shows the different styles of dance and how collaboration can work. These two talented dancers really know their stuff. Greg Hines was truly the epitome of tap, as well as Misha the epitome of ballet. I feel very fortunate that this movie was on DVD....more info
- DANCING is what it's all about
Mikhail is completely amazing. Not only is he the most incredible dancer I have ever seen, he is also a very fine actor. The plot of the movie isn't too entertaining, and the constant plugging of the Acadamey Award nomminated songs becomes quite draining, but one look at the talent Mikhail posesses in his pinky finger and all the corny, poorly written dialogue doesn't matter so much. One of my favorite parts in the movie is when Gregory Hines bets his last eleven or so ruples that Baryshnikov can't do eleven straight piroettes . . . well guess what. What a tribute to the amazingness of human ability, that's all I can say. Watch this movie if only to expand your knowledge of what true beauty is....more info
- white nights
Iwant video white nights with actorjeanmarais and maria Schel...more info
I am so excited that this movie is finally out on dvd!!! I was worried that my VHS copy was going to die on me from being watched so many times. Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov are both incredible dancers to watch and Isabella Rosellini is fantastic too! Very much a Cold War themed movie, and it's interesting to see how two men can have the same feelings about two very different countries. Making it even more dramatic is how true to life the situation must have been for Baryshnikov to play. It's a combination dance/adventure/drama movie...and yes that is possible! Something for everyone! I highly recommend it...more info
- ...back in the USSR...
I agree with most reviews that say this story is a little thin on the plot,but still an interesting way to spend the afternoon. Helen Mirren and Geraldine Page manage to lift it slightly... but only just.Skolomwski does a wonderful nasty turn as the KGB point man. I liked the dance sequences best although at the differences in style Baryshnikov appears slightly more aesthetic...Hines seems to struggle to hold centre stage. Predictable ending....more info
- Best Dance Movie I've Seen
I agree with other reviewers that this film is underrated. First of all, the acting is very good. Quite frankly, the pairing of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Greggory Hines and Isabella Rosselini is reason enough to see this film. Not that I'd recommend it to everybody. Sure, it feels kind of dated with the 80's music. And like every single dance movie I've ever seen, it's a little difficult to take it seriously when the characters suddenly stop their dialogue and dance because the screenplay says "insert stunning dance sequence here". Yet, unlike those other dance films, this one does not rely on filler about backstage bickering, romance and coming-of-age. This film successfully takes the dance movie genre in a whole new direction by setting it in Russia during the Cold War. Suddenly the plot is no longer filler that justifies the dancing, but actually raises some interesting questions when Nikolai's idealistic view of American freedom clashes with Randolph's pessimistic view. If you're a fan of Baryshnikov, Hines or dance in general, do not hesitate to see this one, because it's really a joy to see them together and the film itself isn't bad either. ...more info
- White Nights
Great movie,great dancing techniques.Well look who's in the movie Baryshnikov, and Hines. Great combination!...more info
- Better than some might think
I know you're out there. Those of you who view the movie "White Nights" as just another poorly acted, melodramatic dance movie. But think again.
Yes, White Nights has a lot of dancing in it. Spectacular dancing, I might add, especially Mikhail Baryshnikov in the opening scene. (He's got some pretty strong neck muscles) But, White Nights is so much more than just dancing. The characters in this movie are believable. Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, Isabella Rossellini, just to name some, truly put flesh and blood into their roles. The role of Chaiko, played by Jerzy Skolimowski, seemed a little one-dimensional, but even he did okay. And while the plot doesn't offer a whole lot of twists and turns, it's still fun to watch.
I also enjoyed White Nights because, without getting too preachy, it discusses the challenges of living under both a communist regime and an open society. Even with the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States, we still face difficult issues such as racism and government mistrust. Everyone's perspective though is different, and the film does a fine job in going over this issue.
I did however, find it odd that the three main characters in "Whie Nights" were always playing loud music in their apartment, so as to drown out the noise of what they were saying and doing. You would think that those spying on them would get the hint, pretty early on, that Baryshnikov, Hines and Rossellini, were up to something sneaky. Oh well!
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, some might think "Whie Nights" is dated, but I don't think so. Just watching the performances in this movie, such as those by Gregory Hines and Geraldine Page, two actors who left this world way too soon, makes it all worth it.
- Fascinating pairing of ballet and tap dancing
I would rate this film with a "5", but I thought that Helen Mirren was a great disappointment. She has progressed to being one of the finest of actresses, but I found her performance forced in "White Nights". Geraldine Page is annoying, although I suppose she is meant to be; Isabella Rossellini plays herself, as usual. That disposes of the female players...all of whom I have enjoyed in other movies. And, of course, they are not the stars.
It is certainly a delight to be able to watch Baryshnikov's performance over and over. I prefer the dancing of Gregory Hines, however. In addition, if Hines was the actual singer of the number from "Porgy and Bess", he was certainly a performer to match Baryshnikov--although I'm sure most dance lovers would disagree. But Hines seemed to be a supreme actor, singer and dancer. When Baryshnikov and Hines came to dancing the jazz duet near the end of the film, I would bet that many people, at least silently, decided whom they thought was the more talented and/or enjoyable dancer. Although Baryshnikov is "perfect", Hines' dancing was more interesting, looser. When they performed a triple(?)pirouette, Hines seemed to lose count, but there is something funkier about being both great and able to make mistakes.
Hines is gone, and Baryshnikov is 59 now. Having this near-documentary of their excellence is fortunate for all dance lovers, especially since the duo of virtuosos with opposite styles makes this a movie one can watch repeatedly....more info