En Pointe The Ballet Blogathon
Welcome to En Pointe: The Ballet Blogathon! hosted by Christina Wehner and Love Letters to Old Hollywood
Since beginning his career in the 1970s, nearly all James Toback’s movies have been controversial for one reason or another. Exposed (1983) was no exception. Roger Ebert gave it a thumbs up but many critics found it uneven and difficult to follow. The movie covers a wide array of topics, from terrorism, then something that happened almost exclusively overseas, to the world of high fashion and the exploitation of women.
“So, where’s the ballet?” you might ask. To be honest, there isn’t any. The saving grace for this posting, if not for the movie, is that one of the stars is ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
Somewhat perversely, the ballet great is cast not as a dancer but as a violinist named Daniel Jelline. Nureyev played few dramatic roles in films not related to dance or featuring dance sequences such as Valentino (1977) with Michelle Phillips and Leslie Caron, written and directed by Ken Russell. With Exposed, Toback couldn’t have asked for a better cast and crew. Nastassja Kinski was at the height of her fame. She plays Elizabeth Carlson, a young woman from a provincial background who moves to New York and gets mugged and discovered by a top modeling agency, all in the same week. She’s exploited by several domineering men including a Professor Boscovitch played by Toback. Harvey Keitel is a terrorist who tries to justify his evil deeds to her. Her relationship with the violinist Daniel seems more promising but comes with its own set of problems. The sensuality evoked by this scene is undeniable, however. Although he’s clutching a violin bow, Nureyev’s movements are clearly those of a dancer.
In some ways, Exposed is more of a European film which may account for its commercial failure in the U.S. Besides Kinski, Ingmar Berman regular Bibi Andersson and Frenchman Pierre Clémenti are part of the international cast. Among the crew are two stalwarts of the French New Wave, cinematographer Henri Decaë and composer Georges Delerue.
For more on the film and rare photos of Kinski , visit the fan site Nostalgia Kinky.