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.
Stream Russian Ark
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Seems destined to go down in film history as a technical tour de force.
Washington Post by Desson Thomson
Dramatically, this is something of a waking dream.
New York Daily News by Elizabeth Weitzman
A technical and visual tour-de-force.
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.
Even in its most tedious scenes, Russian Ark is mesmerizing.
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.
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.
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.