User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 54
  2. Negative: 11 out of 54

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  1. Aug 27, 2010
    "Is this a dream?"
    "Maybe, maybe. But I'm wide awake."

    Director Aleksandr Sokurov takes the idea of admiring St. Petersburg's Hermitage through the eye of a camera, and creates a vast, sprawling dream sequence that feels just like dipping your brain in a vat of icy-hot. As the camera drifts through corridor after corridor, the setting constantly shifts - in one room you will encounter the
    director's friends admiring a painting, while in the next room Catherine II is teaching children how to properly curtsy (not to mention a carpenter in a closet making coffins for WWII cavalry). At the helm of this mad tour is the strange guide, who appears out of thin air and constantly judges every detail, from the art to the museum guests. It's hard to know for sure whether he is a figment of our imagination, a phantom, or, as the narrator suggests, a symbol for Europe's constant patronization for Russian art and culture; whatever he represents, Sergei Donstov gives an eccentric performance well worth remembering. However, if classical art isn't your thing, and you won't be won over by decadence or ethereal camerawork, 'Russian Ark' probably doesn't have much to offer you. But then my question is why are you watching movies? Expand
  2. Dec 20, 2010
    It is an experiment that has rarely been put up on screen before. Not only is it trying to challenge our notion of film-making by having one continuous shot, but it also is trying to challenge our understanding of Russia, its history and its great figures. It also has an extraordinary focus on art and the hand of the director is invisible yet very tangible at the same time. Surely, there is no plot, and there is no 'action' in the film - but that is the beauty of it, as well.
    It is something one should watch and cherish for its accomplishments, not judge for the lack of other film elements - when you have a film like 'Russian Ark' one can only surrender to the auteur director and be taken away to another world. A world of Russia as part of the East and West, while at the same time being neither one.
  3. Sep 24, 2014
    From a technique of filming rarely seen on screen to the brilliant idea of wandering in history of a country, in this case Russia. This film is an achievement that should be more recognized. Wonderful acting by a lead character, who is a wandering ghost, who is at the end of the film so overwhelmed by everything that he refuses to leave with the narrator, who is also a ghost. Even with all the mistakes made in the film, it's a marvelous experience. A very, very beautiful movie with one of the best endings ever in film history. There is just something about leaving the Hermitage with the crowd and then fading back to the sea, to continue sailing forever. Expand
  4. Feb 23, 2014
    This film is interesting to say the least. And to say the most. This films has left me satisfied, yet I want more. Okay, let me explain. I thought this film was going to be so cool. A movie about two amnesiacs wandering the halls of an art museum? In one take?! I thought this was going to be awesome. But, it's literally that. Two guys wandering around an art museum. In one take. This film had so much potential, but it was just boring. But I still watch it, hoping that someday, maybe I'll like it. Because I really, really want to like it. Expand

Universal acclaim - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 32
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 32
  3. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Sep 3, 2013
    The best style has a purpose to it, and Russian Ark, in its hypnotic, endless swirl, gets at a deep truth of the post-Soviet psyche, haunted by its legacy of czarist rule and Stalin-era sacrifice. The film is a sad home for ghosts.
  2. A technical and visual tour-de-force.
  3. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Seems destined to go down in film history as a technical tour de force.