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SUBJECTS — Dance; World/Cold War & Russia; U.S./Diversity;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Breaking Out; Courage;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness; Respect.
Age: 13+; MPAA Rating: PG-13; Drama; 135 minutes; 1985; Color.
It is the 1980s. The U.S. and the Soviet Union are battling each other in the Cold War. An internationally known ballet dancer, Nikolai Rodchenko (Mikhail Baryshnikov), has defected to the West. He is flying to Japan for a performance when his plane is forced by mechanical problems to crash land at a Soviet air base. Although he tries to destroy his U.S. passport, Rodchenko's identity is discovered by the Soviet KGB. A black American tap dancer, Raymond Greenwood (Gregory Hines), has defected to the Soviet Union because of his disillusionment with the Vietnam War and racism in the United States. Greenwood and his Russian wife (Isabella Rossellini) are ordered by the KGB to take Rodchenko in and convince him to dance again in the Soviet Union. The movie contains beautiful modern dance and tap sequences.
The TeachWithMovies.com Learning Guide to White Nights helps teachers use this film to supplement studies on the Cold War, explore the role of an artist in a totalitarian society, acquaint students with the little known phenomenon of African Americans defecting to the Soviet Union to try to find a society free from racism, and of the racism that they encountered in Russia.
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White Nights is an excellent supplement to units on the Cold War and an introduction to the problems faced by artists in the Soviet Union (Russia).
Learning Guide Excerpt
To give you a sense of how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to develop lesson plans, and by parents to supplement school curriculum or for homeschooling, we have set out below some of the discussion questions in the Learning Guide to White Nights.
Why did Rodchenko's lady friend decide to stay in the Soviet Union? What would you have done had you been in her position?
If Rodchenko had been such a big star in Russia before he defected to the United States, why did the young ballet students know nothing about him?
The screenwriters were trying to tell us something with the names that they chose for the male characters in this film. What was it?
The Learning Guide to the film White Nights contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
A subscription to TeachWithMovies.com will give teachers access to 350 Snippet Lesson Plans, Learning Guides, and Movie Lesson Plans. Subscribe Today and supplement units on the Cold War with White Nights.
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