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Russian Ark (2002)

Russkiy kovcheg (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy, History | 19 April 2003 (Russia)
Trailer
2:17 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Aleksandr Sokurov

Writers:

Boris Khaimsky (dialogue), Anatoli Nikiforov | 3 more credits »
10 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

2000 cast members, 3 orchestras, 33 rooms, 300 years, ALL IN ONE TAKE See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because the Hermitage museum had to be shut down, the production had only one day to shoot the film. See more »

Goofs

During the opening section of the film, in which the unseen narrator walks/glides through the backstage area of the opera that is being performed, there is a moment in which you can distinctly see the shadow of the boom operator following the camera. See more »

Quotes

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 »


Soundtracks

King Arthur
Composed by Henry Purcell (as G. Persella)
Arranged and interpreted by Sergei Yevtushenko (as Sergey Yevtushenko)
Performed by The State Hermitage Orchestra
See more »

User Reviews

A meditation on the individual's journey from life to the hereafter
21 April 2003 | by howard.schumannSee all my reviews

Focusing on three centuries of Russian history from Peter the Great to Tsar Nicholas II, Russian Ark, the latest film by Alexander Sokurov, is an amazing tour de force. Shot in one long 96-minute tracking shot with a cast of 2000 actors and extras, the film takes the viewer into the great Hermitage Collection in St. Petersburg, Russia, showing real works of art from 33 rooms and exploring their meaning in a larger context. More than just a great technical achievement, this is also a sublime meditation on the individual's place in the universe, one that does not recreate history but allows us to revisit it on a dreamlike stage where past, present, and future are one.

The film begins in the dark with the narrator (apparently Sokurov) commenting about how little he sees. "My eyes are open", he says, "and yet I see nothing". He does not know where he is but apparently has just died in an accident of some kind. Is this a movie? A play?" he asks. He receives no answer except a vision of 18th century aristocrats moving slowly into the Tsar's palace. An elegant white-haired man in a black cloak (Sergey Dreiden) suddenly appears and escorts the confused narrator into the corridors of the grand palace. "Everyone knows the present, but who can remember the past", says the stranger as they walk from one ballroom to the next, witnessing great works of art as well as ghost-like presences from Russia's past. We see works by El Greco, Rubens and Van Dyck in their awesome splendor. We run into Peter the Great thrashing a general, Catherine the Great looking for the bathroom, and Nicholas II, the last Russian Tsar hosting the Great Royal Ball of 1913, the last such formal occasion of its kind.

As we enter the Great Nicholas Hall, the opulent room is filled with thousands of aristocrats dancing the mazurka in gorgeous period costumes. A full orchestra is playing in the background and young soldiers are nattily dressed in their uniforms. How beautiful it all seems and how it appears they were destined to live forever but we all know how the nasty Bolsheviki spoiled the party. Ah yes, how green was my valley then. Sokurov said he wanted to make a whole film "in one breath" and he has succeeded in simulating the breathing process, pulling us in, then moving us out as we feel the rhythm of our own life beating with the swirl of lost humanity. At the end of Russian Ark, we see the peaceful flow of a river outside the hall to which the narrator comments, "The flow is forever. Life is forever." Having completed the past, our invisible guide is now ready to move into the endless silence that is, in the phrase of the Anglican priest Thomas Kelly, "the source of all sound".


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Details

Country:

Russia | Germany | Japan | Canada | Finland | Denmark

Language:

Russian | Persian

Release Date:

19 April 2003 (Russia) See more »

Also Known As:

Russian Ark See more »

Filming Locations:

Russia See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$29,022, 15 December 2002

Gross USA:

$3,048,997

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,690,168
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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