Russian Ark | Chicago Reader

Russian Ark

99 minutes 2013

One of the most staggering technical achievements in cinema—a single shot lasting 95 minutes while moving through 33 rooms in the world's largest museum, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg (which also encompasses the Winter Palace). Part pageant and museum tour, part theme-park ride and historical meditation, this 2002 feature also traverses two centuries of czarist Russia, with offscreen filmmaker Alexander Sokurov engaged in an ongoing dialogue with an on-screen 19th-century French diplomat. Sokurov used close to 2,000 actors and extras and three live orchestras in making what may be the world's only unedited single-take feature as well as the longest Steadicam sequence ever shot. 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. In Russian with subtitles.

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