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Russian Ark(Русский ковчег)

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Russia, Germany, Japan · 2002
1h 39m
Director Aleksandr Sokurov
Starring Sergei Dreiden, Mariya Kuznetsova, Leonid Mozgovoy, Maksim Sergeev
Genre Drama, Fantasy, History, Mystery

The ghost of a 19th century French aristocrat wanders through the Winter Palace of the Russian State Hermitage Museum. He drifts through a seemingly endless maze of hallways, ballrooms, and theaters— in each one, the nobleman encounters real and fictional icons from many periods of St. Petersburg’s 300-year history.

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What are people saying?

Ricardo Rico Profile picture for Ricardo Rico

Even if the historical and literary references and allusions go by too quickly or are too obscure to appreciate in full, at the very least I can appreciate Russian Ark for the technological achievements. Every so often a film "shot-in-one-take" comes around and gets attention, but really seeing it for yourself and experiencing the unique way the film unfolds never fails to impress.

What are critics saying?


L.A. Weekly by

High art, low comedy, hard labor and royal prerogative are here thrown together in an elegant unity, a breathtaking demonstration of Russian cinematic -- hence artistic -- brilliance.


Chicago Reader by J.R. Jones

The problem with these feats is that they threaten to overwhelm the film's content, both as complex historical commentary and as aesthetic and theoretical gesture.


Entertainment Weekly by Owen Gleiberman

It was only with the advent of digital technology that the notion of an entire film done in a single take became possible. Mike Figgis got there first with ''Time Code,'' and now the Russian director Alexander Sokurov has brought off a comparably startling feat with Russian Ark.


Time by Richard Corliss

A coda that will have the movie's audience gasping in exhilarated exhaustion, whispering astonished gratitude to Sokurov for having created vigorous art out of 21st century video technique and asking themselves, "What's the Russian word for Wow!?"


Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

The film is a glorious experience to witness, not least because, knowing the technique and understanding how much depends on every moment, we almost hold our breath.


The New Republic by Stanley Kauffmann

Substantively there is no content. Everything we see or hear engages us only as part of a directorial tour de force. That force is exceptional, but since there is not much more to the picture, it leaves us hungry.

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