Troy Patterson
September 19, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Russian Ark

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
96 minutes
Limited Release Date
12/06/02
performer
Sergei Dreiden, David Giorgobiani, Mariya Kuznetsova, Leonid Mozgovoy
director
Alexander Sokurov
distributor
Wellspring
author
Boris Khaimsky, Anatoli Nikiforov
genre
Historical

We gave it a B+

A French aristocrat and his unseen companion tour the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, drifting from room to room and streaming from century to century — variously crunching across snow with Catherine the Great, stepping through art galleries with contemporary visitors, and encountering all manner of spectacle. Director Alexander Sokurov captures all this in one continuous take, a lovely orchestral stunt that denies us the conventional satisfactions of character and plot and therefore overwhelms any intended meditation on Russian history. Rather, the movie’s pleasures are of enchanting opulence; it’s a sleight-of-hand epic. EXTRAS Both a documentary and a commentary tell you how the filmmakers did it; a short film on the Hermitage tells you why.

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