NR, 99 min.
Director: Aleksandr Sokurov
Writers: Aleksandr Sokurov, Anatoli Nikiforov, Boris Khaimsky, Svetlana Proskurina
Starring: Sergey Dreyden
Voice: Aleksandr Sokurov
“Russian Ark” is one of the most unique and visionary films ever made. It comes from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and uses the Hermitage as a surreal history lesson through Russia’s past 300 years. It depicts two men. One who is the audience’s point of view in the form of a spirit or a ghost that we only hear and never see. The other is a foreigner who has distinct ideas about what he thinks Russia is and a vast knowledge of its history and culture. They travel through the museum and through different time periods of Russia’s history. By the end the foreigner’s ideas have changed along with the audience’s own perception of Russia’s grand history.
When the film was released in 2002, much was made of the film’s visual style. The movie all appears to happen in one ever-moving take. One of its taglines boasts, “2000 Actors. 300 Years of Russian History. 33 Rooms at the Hermitage Museum. 3 Live Orchestras. 1 Single Continuous Shot.” It was the first film ever shot in uncompressed high definition, which is what allowed it to be the first ever truly uncut single shot film. It was filmed in a day, because the Hermitage would only shut down for one day for filming. The first three takes failed because of technical difficulties. The final film is the fourth take.