User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 55 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 55
  2. Negative: 11 out of 55

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  1. Aug 27, 2010
    10
    "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
    "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?
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  2. Feb 23, 2014
    4
    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 filmThis 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
  3. Dec 20, 2010
    7
    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, thereIt 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.
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  4. Sep 24, 2014
    9
    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 allFrom 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
  5. Dec 21, 2014
    10
    Russian Ark is a film where the camerawork has to be established before discussing the film in depth. Russian Ark is 90 minutes long, and consists of a single camera shot. One shot lasting 90 minutes, completed in 3 attempts, gliding through hundreds of rooms in the Russian State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, with over 2000 intensely decorated and choreographed extras completingRussian Ark is a film where the camerawork has to be established before discussing the film in depth. Russian Ark is 90 minutes long, and consists of a single camera shot. One shot lasting 90 minutes, completed in 3 attempts, gliding through hundreds of rooms in the Russian State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, with over 2000 intensely decorated and choreographed extras completing their parts and not missing a single beat. So much preparation, so much grueling design work, and so much passionate effort went into this film -- how could I not honor the cinematography for not only achieving something nearly impossible, and achieving it with such a gracefully gliding steadicam, but also making this masterpiece of a film stand out to the public, and get its message heard? The film is also shot from the point of view of an invisible man, visible only to a wandering figure who guides him through the museum. They step seamlessly in between time periods, indicated by radical changes of decor and costume, as well as appearances of Catherine the Great, Peter the Great, and other famous Russians. It's like a tour of Russian History (which is essentially the purpose of the Hermitage Museum itself), only instead of viewing it all in basic moving pictures, you float through the fabric of time like a celestial feather. That's right, Art House films. Deal with it.
    Every set piece is so immaculate, gorgeous, and convincing that it feels like stepping into a time machine. The imagery and the cinematography are woven to make you feel like what happens on screen is not only real, but that you were there when it happened. No film has ever felt so liberating to me. This is an experience like no other. Everyone should get a chance to feel the magic of Russian Ark before the day they die.
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Metascore
86

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
    100
    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
    90
    Seems destined to go down in film history as a technical tour de force.