Russian Ark: movie review (N/R)
Time Out rating:
Not yet rated
Time Out says
Tue Sep 3 2013
On a wintry December day in 2001, the herculean cinematographer Tilman Büttner (Run Lola Run) strapped on a Steadicam and captured the whole of this mysterious feature in a single shot, snaking through crowded rooms, up and down stairwells and ultimately out a side door of St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace. If that mind-boggling achievement gets you in the theater, then so be it. The best style has a purpose to it, and Russian Ark, in its hypnotic, endless swirl, gets at a deep truth of the post-Soviet psyche, haunted by its legacy of czarist rule and Stalin-era sacrifice. The film is a sad home for ghosts.
Its director, Alexander Sokurov, pushes his conceit to the theatrical hilt: A foppish French marquis (Sergey Dreyden) cavorts in front of us, thrilled to be a tour guide to all the paintings, while no fewer than three separate orchestras await in different chambers. Mumbling but never seen is a narrator (Sokurov himself), maybe a dead man, who wanders the terrain like the player of some arty first-person shooter. We see laughing royal children and forlorn WWII siege survivors, their voices echoing long after the final fade. This is as immersive—and as Shining-level spooky—as history gets.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf
Author: Joshua Rothkopf
Fri Dec 13, 2002
Cast and crew
Sergey Dreiden, Maria Kuznetsova, Leonid Mozgovoy, David Giorgobiani, Alexander Chaban, Maxim Sergeyev, Natalia Nikulenko, Anna Aleksahina, Vladimir Baranov, Boris Smolkin, Alexander Sokurov
Georg Philipp Telemann, G Persella, Peter Tchaikovsky, Mikhail Glinka, Sergey Yevtushenko
Andrey Deryabin, Jens Meurer, Karsten Stöter
Anatoli Nikiforov, Alexander Sokurov, dialogues Boris Khaimsky, Svetlana Proskurina