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Russian Ark: Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray] [Import]

 Unrated   Blu-ray
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 38.55 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Description

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Russian master Alexander Sokurov has tapped into the very flow of history itself for this flabbergasting film. Thanks to the miracles of digital video, Sokurov (and cinematographer Tilman Buttner) uses a single, unbroken, 90-minute shot to wind his way through the Hermitage in St. Petersburg--the repository of Russian art and the former home to royalty. Gliding through time, we glimpse Catherine II, modern-day museumgoers, and the doomed family of Nicholas II. History collapses on itself, as the opulence of the past and the horrors of the 20th century collide, and each door that opens onto yet another breathtaking gallery is another century to be heard from. The movie climaxes with a grand ball and thousands of extras, prompting thoughts of just how crazy Sokurov had to be to try a technical challenge like this--and how far a distance we've traveled, both physically and spiritually, since the movie began. --Robert Horton

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
"Russian Ark" has earned a place in cinematic history by being the longest continuous shot ever in a movie. The entire hour-and-a-half film is one uninterrupted take. No edits. No stopping. Tilman Buttner, the film's cinematographer, supported and maneuvered a digital Steadicam through 33 rooms of St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum for an hour and a half while the action played out before the camera. Director Alexander Sukurov used 2,000 actors, thousands of lavish costumes, precise choreography, and impeccable timing to bring Russian history to life inside the Hermitage Museum, which was for centuries the Winter Palace for Russia's Tzars. The audience sees through the eyes of a modern Russian man, perhaps a ghost, who is able to wander the rooms of Hermitage invisible to those he observes. This man is our narrator, for lack of a better word. His voice is that of director Alexander Sukurov. The narrator encounters another man who is out of place and sometimes unseen by others, a French Marquis who lived in Russia in the early 19th century. The Marquis serves as a guide and provides a running commentary on Russian culture and art, which was not to his liking during his lifetime. As our narrator and the Marquis wander from room to room, they witness the people and history that inhabited the Hermitage through centuries of Romanov rule and into the 20th century. We catch glimpses of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Nicholas I, Nicholas II and witness the last days of Tzarist government. The Marquis articulates a Western European view of Russian culture as second-rate and borrowed, while our narrator draws attention to works of Russian origin while acknowledging the tendency for Russians to collect foreign art. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:DVD
I saw this film in the theater. Unfortunately I was only able to see it once and felt it was one of those films you could see more than once to "see all that you can see". I am very pleased to see it will be on DVD because our(meaning the US's) perspective on Russian history is lacking because of the years we heard only our version of their history. The more media(ie books, articles, film, music) that we have access to see, the better picture we have of Russian people. To the reviewer who worries viewers will be overwhelmed with the "one shot" technique, I say the people who go see this movie are not the type to be overwhelmed with just technique anymore then they would be overwhelmed with the film being Russian(eg the George Lucas Syndrome). It is beautifully filmed in a place many of us may never see.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful genius Nov. 4 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD
this film was groundbreaking, in that is was the first full length feature to be one continuous steadicam shot without any cuts. it is a marvel of logistics, incorporating live orchestras, choreographed dances, and hundreds of performers. it takes place in one sprawling palace in st. petersburg, moving from room to room and through the history of those rooms. the lead actor, who is on screen for at least 60 minutes of the film, is incredible.
certainly one of my favorites... it is slow, grand, beautiful, subtle. it is what every other period piece isn't.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly gorgeous. Magnificent. Otherworldly. Dec 1 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Russian Ark is a true work of genius. According to the capitalist canon, government involvement is the kiss of death for art. But this film is a work of art on a level no American movie has ever achieved (yes, I include Citizen Kane) and it could not have been made without the involvement of the Russian government. (Thousands of actors garbed in gorgeous and intricate costumes.) Like all true art, this film is a powerful catalyst to becoming more deeply absorbed in the human journey. We flit back and forth between centuries of Russian history, bourn on by two protagonists who may be spirits from other times, who are inexplicable moving through the Hermitage as part of their journey. The Hermitage, a museum now, a Czarist palace before, is the one constant throughout those turbulent centuries. The single take technique is more than an amazing logistics achievement. It contributes powerfully to the movie?s strong spiritual feel. Everything changes as we move through time, except for the uninterrupted viewer, who is the immortal soul. The most sublime part of the movie is at the end. Then we understand we have not been watching a movie, but having a compressed experience of the beauty and pathos of life itself. And did I mention, I really liked this movie?
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