RUSSIAN ARK

Rating: G
Length: 99 mins
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RUSSIAN ARK is a 2002 historical drama film directed by Alexander Sokurov. It was filmed entirely in the Winter Palace of the Russian State Hermitage Museum using a single 96-minute Steadicam sequence shot. The film was entered into the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.

An unnamed narrator wanders through the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. The narrator implies that he died in an accident and is a ghost drifting through the palace. In each room, he encounters various real and fictional people from various periods in the city’s 300-year history. He is accompanied by “the European”, who represents the Marquis de Custine, a nineteenth-century French traveler. Russian Arkuses the fourth wall device extensively, but repeatedly broken and re-erected. At times the narrator and the companion interact with the other performers, while at other times they pass unnoticed.

RUSSIAN ARK received high critical acclaim. Roger Ebert wrote, “Apart from anything else, this is one of the best-sustained ideas I have ever seen on the screen…. The effect of the unbroken flow of images (experimented with in the past by directors like Hitchcock and Max Ophüls) is uncanny. If cinema is sometimes dreamlike, then every edit is an awakening. Russian Ark spins a daydream made of centuries. ONE OF THE MOST ASTONISHING FILMS EVER MADE!”.

ROTTEN TOMATOES gave the film an 88% “fresh” rating, with this consensus review summary: “As successful as it is ambitious, Russian Ark condenses three centuries of Russian history into a single, uninterrupted, 87-minute take.”

METACRITIC which uses an average of critics’ reviews, has the film on an 86/100 rating, indicating “universal acclaim”.

Official Trailer