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RUSSIAN ARK aka RUSSKIJ KOVCHEG
USA: Wellspring Cinema
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Sergei Dreiden, Maria Kuznetsova, Leonid Mozgovoy, Mikhail Piotrovsky, David Giorgobiani, Aleksandr Chaban, Maksim Sergeyev, Anna Aleksakhina, Konstantin Anisimov, Aleksei Barabash, Vladimir Baranov, Valentin Bukin, Kirill Dateshidze, Mikhail Dorofeyev, Yevgeni Filatov, Svetlana Gajtan, Vadim Gushchin, Oleg Khmelnitsky, Yuri Khomutyansky, Aleksandr Kulikov, Tamara Kurenkova, Vladimir Lisetsky, Vadim Lobanov, Oleg Losev, Aleksandr Malnykin, Kirill Miller, Sergei Muchenikov, Sergei Nadporozhny, Natalya Nikulenko, Yuri Orlov, Alla Osipenko, Aleksandr Razbash, Yelena Rufanova, Vladimir Sevastyanikhin, Ilya Shakunov, Anatoli Shvedersky, Svetlana Smirnova, Boris Smolkin, Yelena Spiridonova, Artyom Strelnikov, Svetlana Svirko, Valentina Yegorenkova, Lev Yeliseyev, Yuli Zhurin
Director: Aleksandr Sokurov
Countries: Russia / Germany / Japan / Canada
Language: Russian (English subtitles)
USA & UK: 96 mins
UK Certificate: U
USA Release Date: 18 October 2002 (Limited Release - New York)
UK Release Date: 4 April 2003
Russian director, Alexander Sokurov (MOTHER AND SON)'s extraordinary masterpiece, RUSSIAN ARK is a unique journey through time and Russian history. Filmed entirely in the State Hermitage Museum, in St. Petersburg, Sokurov's breathtaking film recreates 300 years of history and culture and is the first entirely unedited, single take, full-length feature film.
A contemporary Russian filmmaker magically finds himself in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. He meets a cynical French diplomat from the nineteenth century, the Marquis de Custine, and the two men become accomplices in an extraordinary, time-travelling journey through Russia's turbulent past. Together they encounter life at the Imperial Palace as it was through different ages from Catherine the Great's backstage love affairs to the last Tsar's ball in 1913 in the Winter Palace, the panorama unfolds in Europe's most beautiful planned city. The film evolves from 1703 (The foundation of the city of Peter the Great) right up to the Nazi invasion and the heroic siege of Leningrad during World War Two, to the live performances of the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra.
RUSSIAN ARK combines state of the art digital technology, strong storytelling, lavish production values and a highly personal mise-en-scene. Sokurov's vision - featuring more than 2000 actors and extras - was realised entirely 'in camera'. After months of careful planning and choreographed rehearsals, the entire film was shot by Tilman Buttner in a single day, in one recording, in a single uninterrupted steadicam sequence. The ultimate 'directors cut', there is no editing as the film unfolds in pure real time. Pushing the boundaries of filmmaking, RUSSIAN ARK is the first ever uncompressed High Definition movie, recorded onto a portable hard disk system, rather than 35mm or tape.
2003 marks the tercentenary of the foundation of the city of St Petersburg and the world famous State Hermitage Museum has one of the largest and most celebrated art collections in the world. Built by Peter the Great and founded as a museum by Empress Catherine II in 1764, the collection consists of more than three million items: paintings, sculptures, prints, decorative arts and a rich selection of archaeological artefacts. RUSSIAN ARK is arguably one of the most important films to emerge from Russia in the last 20 years.