White Nights - The night of the decision

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German title White Nights - night of decision
Original title White Nights
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1985
length approx. 131 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Taylor Hackford
script James Goldman and Eric Hughe
production Taylor Hackford and William S. Gilmore
music Michel Colombier
camera David Watkin
cut Fredric Steinkamp and William Steinkamp

White Nights is a 1985 film-drama directed by Taylor Hackford . This dance film with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, Isabella Rossellini and Jerzy Skolimowski is about an exiled Russian dancer (Mikhail Baryshnikov) for whom a nightmare has come true: after he fled to the West years ago, he got through a Emergency landing of an aircraft involuntarily returns to the Soviet Union, where he is identified by a KGB agent (Jerzy Skolimowski) as Nikolai (Kolya) Rodchenko. The KGB agent tries to convince Nikolai to dance in the Soviet Union again.


The background to the film was: What would happen if an internationally known Russian ballet dancer, a defector in the West, found himself in Russia?

The main actor Mikhail Baryshnikov , who plays Nikolai Rochenko, a ballet dancer who fled the Soviet Union, actually plays his own life story in the film. He himself fled in 1974 during a tour through Canada and then applied for political asylum in the USA.

Plot - short version

Nikolai Rodchenko is a ballet dancer who fled the Soviet Union. On a flight from the USA to Japan , the aircraft has to make an emergency landing in Siberia. The KGB functionary Chaiko (Jerzy Skolimowski) discovers Nikolai, who had torn his US passport during the emergency landing, among passengers. He leaves him no choice but to officially announce his return to his homeland, otherwise Chaiko would have him disappear forever in a Siberian labor camp. The tap dancer and Vietnam deserter Raymond (Gregory Hines), who lives in Russia, and his wife Darya (Isabella Rossellini) are supposed to help Nikolai with his decision. Nikolai appears to accept Chaiko's suggestion, but together with Raymond and Darya he is preparing a daring escape to the West in his old hometown of Leningrad.

Film course

Kolya in asylum in the USA

The film begins in the United States, where Kolya is seen performing the ballet le jeune homme et la mort . After the performance, Kolya meets his manager Anne Wyatt in his cloakroom. Both advise on the next appearance in Tokyo .

During the flight with a Boeing 747 to Tokyo over the Pacific Ocean , the lights suddenly went out after a fire broke out in the cockpit. After the announcement about the imminent emergency landing, Kolya jumps up and runs to the toilet, where he tears up his passport and flushes it down.

After the landing permit for the Norilsk military airfield , Siberia , the aircraft goes into descent. During the approach, the crew realized that the runway was too small and an emergency landing was inevitable. Meanwhile, Kolya tries to get back to his seat. But he does not manage to do this in time and he is hit by a suitcase, which injures his head.

In the next scene you can see General Chaiko walking through the corridor of the hospital and receiving information about the flight accident from a comrade. When he asks about the person who does not have a passport, he is handed a bag, which he empties in his cap. He orders the comrade to get in touch with Moscow.

Then Chaiko enters Kolya's hospital room, whom he addresses in English, from which he does not get an answer. When asked if he doesn't understand, Kolya replies in French that he is French and that he would like to speak to the French embassy. Chaiko then asks him if he defected again and throws his torn passport on the bed. Kolya asks for a cigarette and is greeted by Chaiko in Russian in his homeland.

In the next scene, which takes place in the Siberian city of Oleniyn , you see Raymond, a Vietnam deserter who fled the USA. The African-American who applied for asylum in the Soviet Union is currently playing a play. After the performance, he meets his wife Dasha backstage. Immediately afterwards General Chaiko appears, who had helped Raymond to get a job as a tap dancer after entering the USSR. He offers Raymond to come to Moscow if he can get Kolya to dance in the Soviet Union again.

Chaiko tries to get Kolya to dance in the USSR again

Kolya wakes up in the house of Raymond (in Taimyr , Siberia ) and initially believes that he is an American ambassador. Kolya accuses the two of being KGB agents, which they deny. He asks if he is under arrest, which Raymond and Dasha also deny. Kolya gets a jacket thrown from Raymond and walks out of the house. After a while, Raymond pursues him.

Kolya runs through deserted streets, secretly pursued by Raymond, and finally comes to the town hall where he finds a phone. Raymond can barely prevent a call.

Back at the house, Raymond, Kolya, and Dasha have dinner. After dinner, Raymond gets drunk and talks about his past in Harlem , NY , about the steppe and how Uncle Sam only wanted him so he should kill people. Then he breaks down crying and insults Kolya, who knows nothing about America. Then he leaves the table to go to sleep.

In the opencast mine, Raymond is sitting in the car with General Chaiko, who is questioning him about the tapped conversation that evening. He asks Raymond what he meant by the US just trying to take advantage of him, but Raymond dismisses that he was drunk. General Chaiko orders the car to be stopped and they both get out. Chaiko talks about the working conditions in the open pit as a rather blatant threat of forced labor.

Back in Raymond's house, Raymond comes in and tries to get Kolya to dance in the Soviet Union again, telling him that everything is as it was when he escaped. Kolya accepts the offer, but says that he would first like to check the seriousness of the offer and that he would have to go to his hometown Leningrad .


In the city of Leningrad, Kolya's former hometown, Raymond, Darja and Kolya sit in the car with General Chaiko and drive through the metropolis. The journey leads along the Kirov Theater and ends in front of the entrance to Kolya's old apartment. In the apartment, Chaiko Kolya offers a studio, car and food if he appears in a play. Kolya doesn't say anything about this and walks through his apartment. On the way to the door, Chaiko tells Raymond to train with Kolya.

In the studio where Kolya had trained 20 years earlier, Raymond turns on Kolya's music player, from which American rhythms can be heard. Kolya asks him if he doesn't miss this, but Raymond says no. Since Kolya doesn't want to train, Raymond makes a bet with him: if Kolya could do 11 pirouettes, he would get 11 rubles , otherwise Raymond would get the music player. Kolya manages these pirouettes (note: the film scene is filmed), whereupon Raymond pays him 11 rubles. While Kolya is counting the money, Galina Ivanova suddenly walks in, with whom Kolya used to dance in the Kirov Theater. The two talk; From the conversation it emerges that Kolya had stayed in the West while performing in London and that Galina had to endure reprisals on her return. In the course of the conversation she asks Kolya to start over in the Kirov Theater. Kolya rejects this because he cannot live without freedom. He turns up the music and whispers to Galina to help him and get in touch with the US embassy. Galina reacts angrily because he has not changed and leaves the studio. In front of the door she meets Raymond, but she walks by without a word. Kolya comes out of the studio and meets Raymond, who asks him about Galina, to which Kolya replies that she was a good dancer. Kolya tells Raymond that he wants to take a long shower first and goes back to the studio.

Unnoticed by Raymond, Kolya climbs out of the window, runs over the roof, finally climbs down the house wall and climbs through a window in whose room there are young ballet dancers. He asks if they could give Mrs. Simjonowa a note. Since they do not know Kolya due to the deliberate forgetting of the theater and the government, they do not want to accept it. Instead, a little ballet dancer pushes him back to the window with a broom, through which he also leaves the room. She tears the note up in front of his eyes.

In Leningrad's Kirov you can hear the songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky , who is unpopular with the Russian rulers , singing Picky Horses (кони привередливые). Kolya dances in front of Galina to the music of Vysotsky. She is very fond of his dance, there are tears in her eyes. She speaks to a US diplomat and tells him that Kolya is in Leningrad. The diplomats agree to organize his escape. There is a final meeting between Galina and Kolya. He asks her if she would have stayed in London with him if he had informed her of his intentions. She denies this.

Meanwhile, Raymond gets into trouble with Chaiko after he learns that Kolya escaped Raymond's supervision and tried to send a message through the ballet students. In the following, Kolya pretends that he has taken a liking to Darya and despises Raymond. The racist undertone in his remarks is heard by Chaiko. Raymond learns that Darya is pregnant and decides with Kolya and Darya to dare to escape together. To do this, they have to surprise the guards in front of the door. At midnight they are supposed to meet the American diplomat Scott at the Greifenbrücke on the Gribojedow Canal . However, only Kolya and Darya manage to get out of the house unnoticed. Together with Scott they drive towards the American embassy, ​​but a few meters in front of the building they collide with a militia car. Shortly afterwards, Chaiko arrives and tries to dissuade Kolya from entering through the gate to the grounds of the American embassy, ​​where Kolya's manager, press representatives and other guests of a specially convened reception are staying. Kolya succeeds in convincing his opponent that the press is only waiting to catch pictures of scenes of violence. Chaiko gives in and pretends that the handover is on his initiative, but reminds Kolya that he has Raymond in his hand and advises him to say that he has been treated well in the Soviet Union. Raymond is jailed but is released through an agent exchange and eventually sees his wife and Kolya again.


The German dubbing was directed by Michael Richter on behalf of the Deutsche Synchron Filmgesellschaft mbH, Berlin.

role actor speaker
Nikolai "Kolya" Rodchenko Mikhail Baryshnikov Joachim Tennstedt
Raymond Greenwood Gregory Hines Ulrich Gressieker
Colonel Chaiko Jerzy Skolimowski
Galina Ivanova Helen Mirren Sonja German
Anne Wyatt Geraldine Page Tilly Lauenstein
Darja Greenwood Isabella Rossellini
Wynn Scott John Glover Frank Glaubrecht
Captain Kirigin Stefan Gryff
Chuck Malarek William Hootkins Engelbert von Nordhausen
US Ambassador Larry Smith Shane Rimmer Heinz Theo branding


  • Oscar for Say You, Say Me for best film song from the Award of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences 1985 .
  • Golden Globe for Say You, Say Me for best song in a movie from The Hollywood Foreign Press Association Award 1985 .


  • Since the studio couldn't afford to rent a 747 , the plane shown in the film from the fictional airline British Orient is actually a 707 . The production company bought them for $ 70,000 from a Costa Rican airline that, like many others, had to sell planes below list price during the energy crisis in the mid-1980s. In comparison, the kerosene cost $ 50,000 for the flight scene. For the emergency landing, the aircraft got an artificial attachment on the front part of the upper fuselage and changes to the tail.
  • On the walls of Raymond and Darya Greenwood's apartment in Siberia are posters of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X , as well as album covers of A Love Supreme by John Coltrane and What's Going On? by Marvin Gaye in the apartment.
  • At Taylor Hackford's request, the role of KGB agent Chaiko should actually be played by Miloš Forman , who is a friend of Mikhail Baryshnikov, but at the same time was busy selling his latest film Amadeus and was therefore not available. Hackford then came across his friend Jerzy Skolimowski, a Polish director, who agreed to play the role.
  • During the emergency landing of the 747 on a Siberian military base in Norilsk "- the location was a NATO military base at the time in Scotland - the aircraft was destroyed when it brushed against a house and lost a wing.
  • While filming, Taylor Hackford met his wife, Helen Mirren .
  • The songs Separate Lives by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin and Say You, Say Me by Lionel Richie both reached the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 .


  • Zoom: Nicely filmed dance film.
  • Lexicon of International Films: Overconstructed melodramatic film about the freedom of dance and music as creative forms of expression; Only staged densely in a few moments, the film largely gets lost in the usual cliché images and fashionable set pieces.

See also


  1. http://www.ofdb.de/view.php?page=film&fid=11367
  2. [1] , German synchronization.
  3. http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/movie/detail/-/hnum/6303705
  4. White Nights - The Night of Decision. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed August 27, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 

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