Australian Council on Children and the Media

The White Crow

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Short takes

Not recommended under 13; parental guidance to 15 (adult themes; nudity)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for The White Crow
  • a review of The White Crow completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 July 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to nudity; substance use; themes of sexuality and democide; coarse language; lack of interest
Children aged 13–15 Parental guidance to 15 due to sexual content and adult themes
Children over the age of 15 Ok for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: The White Crow
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Coarse language and nudity
Length 127 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Rudolf Nureyev (Oleg Ivenko), born into poverty and raised in war-torn USSR, falls in love with ballet as a young boy and, with the help of his ballet instructor Pushkin (Ralph Fiennes), struggles his way to the top of the ballet scene in Russia. While in his early 20s, Rudolf and his ballet company take a trip to Paris, during which he becomes enamoured by the freedom and beauty of the ‘Western World’.  As his fame skyrockets, Rudolf becomes increasingly less willing to play by his Russian handlers’ rules; staying out late and fraternising with “foreigners” from the ‘West’.  As the company prepares to depart on their next trip to London, Rudolf is stopped by his Russian handlers and KGB agents who claim he must instead fly to Russia to perform at a ‘Gala’.  Knowing that his behaviour in Paris has led the Soviet government to see him as a threat and are likely to jail or kill him, Rudolf does the only thing he can - he defects

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Poverty; Child abandonment; Substance use; Sexuality; Political asylum seeking

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Several Russian agents try to grab Rudolf in an aggressive manner
  • Rudolf threatens Russian agents with a letter opener

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • A woman is seen giving birth on a train, and is very distressed by the experience – The woman screams and cries, which may be distressing for young children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Young Rudolf is taken into the woods by his father and left overnight – He screams for his father and is visibly distressed.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Rudolf’s ankles bleed through his socks while he dances – young viewers may find this distressing.
  • A female character describes having just lost her boyfriend in a car accident – She is visibly distressed.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Rudolf is detained at the airport by Russian agents who attempt to take him back to Russia, where he would presumably be murdered or jailed by the Soviet government – This sequence is very tense and distressing – Children over the age of thirteen may find this sequence disturbing due to the real risk of kidnap and assassination.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Nothing of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Numerous references to homosexual interactions
  • Nude art is shown on a number of occasions

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Full frontal male nudity
  • Breasts are exposed during a provocative cabaret dance – The women slap each other’s bottoms
  • A female character gropes a male’s genitals while putting his hand down her shirt – They are then implied to have had sex
  • Two men are shown naked while in bed together – It is implied that they have had sex
  • Numerous people kiss – females and males, males and males, and females and females

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Smoking occurs frequently throughout the film
  • Characters drink wine and spirits throughout the film
  • A female character describes taking Valium following the death of her boyfriend

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Shut up
  • Ass
  • Fuck

In a nutshell

The White Crow is a biopic of the late Rudolf Nureyev – one of the greatest male ballet dancers of his generation – which details his rise to fame and subsequent defection from the USSR to the ‘West’.  Presented mostly in Russian with English subtitles, this film has a number of strong moments and performances, particularly that of the character Rudolf, but lacks both good pacing and a strong narrative.  This film is not recommended for children under 13 due to frequent nudity, adult themes (particularly related to the defection sequence), and lack of interest – Parental guidance is recommended to 15. 

The main messages from this movie are that hard work and perseverance are important to succeed; and to be true to yourself, even if it means going against the ‘rules’.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Friendship and support in times of need
  • Working hard to achieve goals.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Bullying behaviour towards friends and others
  • Sexuality and safe sexual relationships.

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