White Nights (1985)

White Nights (1985)

Taglines: Two men. Not soldiers. Not heroes. Just dancers. Willing to risk their lives for freedom-and each other.

Nikolai ‘Kolya’ Rodchenko (Baryshnikov) is a Soviet ballet dancer who had defected from the Soviet Union. The plane carrying him to a next performance in Tokyo has engine trouble and crashes in Siberia. He is hurt and is soon recognized by KGB officer Colonel Chaiko (Jerzy Skolimowski).

Chaiko then contacts African-American tap dancer, Raymond Greenwood (Hines), who has defected to the Soviet Union, and gets them both to Leningrad. Chaiko wants Rodchenko to dance at the season’s opening night at the Kirov, and Greenwood to babysit Rodchenko. To convince Rodchenko, Chaiko uses Galina Ivanova (Mirren), a former ballerina who never left the Soviet Union and is an old flame of Rodchenko.

After an initial period of racial and artistic friction, the two dancers (and defectors in opposite directions) become strong friends. When Raymond finds that his wife Darya Greenwood (Rossellini) is pregnant, he decides he doesn’t want their child to grow up in the Soviet Union, and together, with Rodchenko, they plan an escape, with the help from Galina, who still has feelings for Rodchenko.

While the escape plan is going on, Raymond chooses to stay behind to delay Chaiko, gaining time for Nikolai and Darya to get to the American Consulate at Leningrad. Even though Raymond is incarcerated when the whole plan is revealed, he is finally traded by the Soviets for a political prisoner from Latin America, and reunites with Darya and Nikolai.

White Nights is a 1985 American drama film directed by Taylor Hackford and choreographed by Twyla Tharp and stars Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, Jerzy Skolimowski, Helen Mirren and Isabella Rossellini. It was shot in Finland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and Austria.

The film is notable both for the dancing of Hines and Baryshnikov and for the Academy Award winning song “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie in 1986, as well as “Separate Lives” performed by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin and written by Stephen Bishop (also nominated).

White Nights Movie Poster (1985)

White Nights (1985)

Directed by: Taylor Hackford
Starring: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, Jerzy Skolimowski, Helen Mirren, Geraldine Page, Isabella Rossellini, John Glover
Screenplay by: James Goldman, Eric Hughes
Production Design by: Philip Harrison
Cinematography by: David Watkin
Film Editing by: Fredric Steinkamp, William Steinkamp
Costume Design by: Evangeline Harrison
Set Decoration by: Joanne Woollard
Art Direction by: Richard Dawking, Malcolm Middleton, Austen Spriggs
Music by: Michel Colombier
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: November 22, 1985