Saturday, March 14, 2009

Russian Ark (2002)

Modern Intellectual 1: For us, detail is more interesting.
Look closely here.
A chicken and a cat are in the foreground.
They are symbolic figures.
The chicken represents greed, avarice...
the cat, cynicism and cruelty.
Cynicism and Cruelty... The cat...
They are both calmed by the birth of John.
French Marquis: Interesting.

Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov broke boundaries with his dreamlike vision of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russian Ark. It's the first feature-length narrative film shot in a single take (on digital video, using a specially designed disc instead of tape). Russian Ark is shot from the point-of-view of an unseen narrator, as he explores the museum and travels through Russian history. The audience sees through his eyes as he witnesses Peter the Great (Maksim Sergeyev) abusing one of his generals; Catherine the Great (Maria Kuznetsova) desperately searching for a bathroom; and, in the grand finale, the sumptuous Great Royal Ball of 1913. The narrator is eventually joined by a sarcastic and eccentric 19th century French Marquis (Sergey Dreiden), who travels with him throughout the huge grounds, encountering various historical figures and viewing the legendary artworks on display. While the narrator only interacts with the Marquis (he seems to be invisible to all the other inhabitants), the Marquis occasionally interacts with visitors and former residents of the museum. The film was obviously shot in one day, but the cast and crew rehearsed for months to time their movements precisely with the flow of the camera while capturing the complex narrative, with elaborate costumes from different periods, and several trips out to the exterior of the museum. Tilman B├╝ttner, the director of photography, was responsible for capturing it all in one single Steadicam shot. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 96 mins
Russian Ark (2002)
A truly beautiful picture, and well worth watching it with the commentary also afterwards, and that is not the drugs talking {cold}.

It was not an historical documentary but a fantasy of what the French Marquis might have said if he got to visit the museum that spanned throughout 300 years of Russian History. I like the subtlety of the French Marquis references to some of the historical events did not make it any easier. But luckily, I don't know any Frenchmen so the can go ----. Bullox!

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