140 Words: Russian Ark

2000 cast members; 3 orchestras; 33 rooms; 300 years; all in one take.

Andrei Sukurov’s hypnotic journey through St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum is truly a sight to behold. Shot in one take (99 minutes!), Russian Ark presents the story of a French aristocrat and his epic journey, which spans 300 years of pre-Revolution Russia.

Astonishing is the first word that springs to mind. To choreograph this epic is one thing, but to choreograph it before having access to the museum, which was then only available for shooting for one day, is quite another. Additionally, the cinematographer had technical troubles on the first two shoots, but they completed the take on the third.

Russian Ark may not be for everyone because its style could be mistaken as naval-gazing. However, if you love history, culture and art, and the process of filmmaking, then this is an absolute must-see.

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8 thoughts on “140 Words: Russian Ark

    1. I know, right?! It’s an amazing feat of technical filmmaking, however it’s also a really intriguing narrative. Definitely not for everyone, mind.

    1. Absolutely! Imagine the frustration of the equipment failing and it having nothing to do with the actors. What I cannot imagine is how they managed to time it so perfectly. It’s something to behold; Ebert said this “If cinema is sometimes dreamlike, then every edit is an awakening. Russian Ark spins a daydream made of centuries.” I think that’s absolutely spot on with this movie.

  1. I was amazed by this film. I know that the technical aspects are brilliant but I was equally impressed by the script and its method of weaving past and present together. Thanks for the fabulous review!

    1. That’s the wonderful thing about this movie; it washes over you like a warm breeze. I loved it regardless of the AMAZING feat of technical filmmaking. Thanks for dropping by!! 😀

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