Russian Ark DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 10.0
Video 9.0
Audio 9.0
Special Features 10.0
Total 9.5
Distributor: Roadshow
Running Time:
AV Channel
Classification:
 G
Reviewer:
Felix Staica

9.5


Russian Ark (2002)

Once in a while, something comes along that catches your eye and imagination and won’t let go. For me, Aleksandr Sokurov’s film is one such even. Okay, so you might protest that it’s just a walk through just an art gallery. Ouch! But what a walk! And what a gallery! The Hermitage in St Petersburg is symbol and testament par excellence of Enlightenment Russia’s striving for unity with and brilliance over Europe. 

We see the great figures of Russia dramatised before us. Peter the Great and Catherine the Great—she has to run off ‘to piss’. The central problem of Russian history has been how closely to embrace Europe to the West: totally or minimally. This film brings that out with great aplomb. 

The technical achievement of the film should also not go unmentioned. The goal was to shoot one continuous take. That means not stopping the camera and therefore not editing. This unstoppable flow and motion creates a visual and dramatic vortex that cascades and cascades. The lushness of the surrounding, plus the costumes are a thrilling experience. The cinematographer becomes a character whose POV we cannot escape… he is guided along by French diplomat in period costume: The Stranger (Sergei Dontsov). The two converse about history and its problems, all the time benign to those around them. 

The extras are bombastic. There is a full-length audio commentary from the film’s producer Jens Meurer, plus a full-length commentary from theorist Dr Baraba Creed (an Aussie!), plus a ‘making of’ doco and also an illustrated lecture. All in all, one disc can provide you with hours of intrigue. This is a fascinating project. To have seen the film in the cinema was stunning. However, the extras included on this disc enhance its impact. 

I am a huge, huge fan of this film and would recommend it to virtually anyone with an interest in Russia and or filmmaking. Do not let this one get away from you!  

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