Russian Ark (2002)
"Russkiy kovcheg" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, History  |  19 April 2003 (Russia)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 13,230 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 173 user | 132 critic | 32 from

A 19th century French aristocrat, notorious for his scathing memoirs about life in Russia, travels through the Russian State Hermitage Museum and encounters historical figures from the last 200+ years.



(dialogue), , 3 more credits »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

10 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A slow and poignant story of love and patience told via a dying mother nursed by her devoted son. The simple narrative is a thread woven among the deeply spiritual images of the countryside... See full summary »

Director: Aleksandr Sokurov
Stars: Aleksei Ananishnov, Gudrun Geyer
Faust III (2011)
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A despairing scholar sells his soul to Satan in exchange for one night with a beautiful young woman.

Director: Aleksandr Sokurov
Stars: Johannes Zeiler, Anton Adasinsky, Isolda Dychauk
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

This story takes place in a small town on the Hungarian Plain. In a provincial town, which is surrounded with nothing else but frost. It is bitterly cold weather - without snow. Even in ... See full summary »

Directors: Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky
Stars: Lars Rudolph, Peter Fitz, Hanna Schygulla
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin
The Mirror (1975)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A dying man in his forties remembers his past. His childhood, his mother, the war, personal moments and things that tell of the recent history of all the Russian nation.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Margarita Terekhova, Filipp Yankovskiy, Ignat Daniltsev
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A rural farmer is forced to confront the mortality of his faithful horse.

Directors: Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky
Stars: János Derzsi, Erika Bók, Mihály Kormos
Nostalgia (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The Russian poet Andrei Gorchakov, accompanied by guide and translator Eugenia, is traveling through Italy researching the life of an 18th-century Russian composer. In an ancient spa town, ... See full summary »

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Oleg Yankovskiy, Erland Josephson, Domiziana Giordano
The Sacrifice (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Erland Josephson, Susan Fleetwood, Allan Edwall
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention.

Director: Dziga Vertov
Stars: Mikhail Kaufman
Andrei Rublev (1966)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

The life, times and afflictions of the fifteenth-century Russian iconographer.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolay Grinko
Close-Up (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Pretending to be Mohsen Makhmalbaf making his next movie, Hossain Sabzian enters the home of a well-to-do family in Tehran, promising it a prominent part in his next movie. The actual ... See full summary »

Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Stars: Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Hossain Sabzian, Abolfazl Ahankhah
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Making of Russian Ark (2002), with on camera personal views by members of the cast and crew of the major film.

Director: Knut Elstermann
Stars: Jens Meurer, Tilman Büttner, Ron Holloway


Cast overview, first billed only:
Sergey Dreyden ...
The Stranger (The Marquis de Custine)
Mariya Kuznetsova ...
Leonid Mozgovoy ...
The Spy
Mikhail Piotrovsky ...
Himself (Hermitage Director)
David Giorgobiani ...
Aleksandr Chaban ...
Boris Piotrovsky
Lev Eliseev ...
Oleg Khmelnitsky ...
Alla Osipenko ...
Artyom Strelnikov ...
Talented Boy
Tamara Kurenkova ...
Herself (Blind Woman)
Maksim Sergeyev ...
Natalya Nikulenko ...
Elena Rufanova ...
First Lady
Yelena Spiridonova ...
Second Lady


An unseen man regains consciousness, not knowing who or where he is. No one seems to be able to see him, except the mysterious man dressed in black. He eventually learns through their discussions that this man is a 19th century French aristocrat, who he coins the "European". This turn of events is unusual as the unseen man has a knowledge of the present day. The two quickly learn that they are in the Winter Palace of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the European who has a comprehensive knowledge of Russian history to his time. As the two travel through the palace and its grounds, they interact with people from various eras of Russian history, either through events that have happened at the palace or through the viewing of artifacts housed in the museum. Ultimately, the unseen man's desired journey is to move forward, with or without his European companion. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


2000 Actors. 300 years of Russian History. 33 Rooms at the Hermitage Museum. 3 Live Orchestras. 1 Single Continuous Shot. See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


| | | | |



Release Date:

19 April 2003 (Russia)  »

Also Known As:

El arca rusa  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$29,022 (USA) (13 December 2002)


$37,439 (USA) (22 November 2013)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In interviews, Aleksandr Sokurov refused to say how many actors and extras appear in the film, or how much it cost. See more »


Many extras look to the camera and they quickly return to a default mark. See more »


The Stranger: Let's proceed with caution. These madmen could eat us.
The Time Traveller: They liked your hair.
The Stranger: Of course, I'm a writer. Writer's always have good hair.
See more »


Featured in In One Breath: Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark (2003) See more »


Mélodie antique française Op.39-16
(from "Album à la jeunesse")
Composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (as Piotr Chaikovsky)
Arranged and interpreted by Sergei Yevtushenko (as Sergey Yevtushenko)
Performed by The State Hermitage Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Technically impressive, content-wise it was interesting rather than engaging
7 March 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

An unnamed and unseen filmmaker finds himself in the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg in what appears to be the 18th Century. No one seems to be able to see him except his travelling companion, Frenchman Marquis de Custine, who he talks to. Together the two of them go around the museum, flitting between time as they go, gradually covered 300 years of Russian history.

I was drawn to this film as I have recently had to install digital television in my house (just for 24!) and I figured that I might as well see what the channels had to offer. After working out that I had access to numerous shopping channels I also found that I had BBC4, the arts and history channel, and that it was to be showing this film. I was interested in it not for my love of Russian history but for the fact that it was done in one take and, for that reason, I quite enjoyed it.

As far as plot goes, I really think you need to have an existing knowledge of Russian history as this film will not help you understand anything about it other than a passing impression. This was the case for me as I know next to nothing of the history, but I was still able to gleam some things about the political relationships between Russia and Europe as well as some of the main players. However it never got to the point where I was taken or engaged by the material; interested is perhaps a more fitting word to use - and that's still a good thing.

Technically the film is gripping and very impressive. Much was made of Snake Eye's 20 minute one-take opening (even thought it was actually 3 takes) or Goodfella's seamless move from street to table, but this film blows them away. I cannot even imagine the sheer logistics involved in creating such an effect. It would be impressive if the film was all shot in one room with a few cast members, but this film moves around the museum with a cast of thousands and set pieces that vary from two people looking at paintings to a massive ballroom scene. I was held totally impressed by the whole film as the entire one take was delivered seamlessly, without flaw. For this reason the acting is impressive whether it is Dontsov's acerbic Frenchman or just some extra's - everyone had to get it right bang on time and they did.

Overall this film will be a masterpiece if you have a good working knowledge and understanding of Russian history. However even if you don't know that much (like me), the technical aspect of this film will impress you no end even if the material is best seen as `interesting' at best.

40 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Which is the longest shot ever taken? crappydoo
What's the point? chinomovies
Strange spitting Curlysuperlative
Website may answer some cultural/historical questions candiceamcdougall
The french man evildoom_bunny
3 editors? tuckertron
Discuss Russian Ark (2002) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: