User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 56 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 56
  2. Negative: 11 out of 56

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  1. GilbertGilbertovitchMulroneycakeski
    Apr 11, 2003
    10
    Phil Hall, Chad S., Yakov C, Keri No-Last-Initial: you are being so utterly, heartlessly, breathtakingly CRUEL you belong in a David Lynch movie. Russian Ark, it's true, it isn't going to be everyone's cup of char. Unless you know (intimately) andor love Russian history, it's going to be dull as ditchwater. Obviously. It's hardly a criticism, more an unfortunate Phil Hall, Chad S., Yakov C, Keri No-Last-Initial: you are being so utterly, heartlessly, breathtakingly CRUEL you belong in a David Lynch movie. Russian Ark, it's true, it isn't going to be everyone's cup of char. Unless you know (intimately) andor love Russian history, it's going to be dull as ditchwater. Obviously. It's hardly a criticism, more an unfortunate fact of life. But think about that for a second. Its only problem is: it will bore you if you aren't interested. No sh*t, Sherlock. F'crying out loud, it's a ONE TAKE FEATURE FILM! A 96-MINUTE TRACKING SHOT! SO WHAT IF THE SUBJECT MATTER'S VERY VERY NICHE? WHO THE HELL CARES? SOKUROV HAS MADE A FEATURE FILM! IN! ONE! TAKE! THAT'S ABSOLUTELY ASTONISHING! GIVE HIM SOME DAMN CREDIT! (inhales) Right. Sorry. But seriously, either give Sokurov credit for one of the most amazing techincal and personal achivements in cinema history, or go back to torturing small animals. With pliers. And margarine. You cruel, evil bastards. Expand
  2. 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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  3. HeatherA.
    Jun 16, 2003
    9
    Loved it - will go again.
  4. Luke
    Jul 7, 2003
    10
    Wonderfully gentle (and gentile) in every move. Intriguing and sensitive dialogue. I loved how every detail no matter mundane or sublime were picked out and mulled over with equal reverence.
  5. JimS.
    Mar 1, 2003
    10
    Frightfully real. What arrogant fools we societies can be. This film is a unique and powerful display of the ebb and flow of Russian history pre-1917. The ending screams in its silence as the dance breaks up and you realize you are watching the death march of the Czars hereditaric aristocracy. I wanted to shout "Look Out!" But we can change the past only improve on its delivery as Frightfully real. What arrogant fools we societies can be. This film is a unique and powerful display of the ebb and flow of Russian history pre-1917. The ending screams in its silence as the dance breaks up and you realize you are watching the death march of the Czars hereditaric aristocracy. I wanted to shout "Look Out!" But we can change the past only improve on its delivery as Alexander Sokurov has done singularly and forcefully. Expand
  6. Nina
    May 7, 2003
    10
    Its great. I love it like a brother or sister. Being a native Russian i find it difficult to unearth films that really relate to my upbringing on the streets of St. Petersburg. After my inauguration into the Catholic Church i found my appreciation for fine cinematics dwindling. After i saw this fantastic film I am not sure which is better Russian Ark or life itself.
  7. RobertK.
    Jun 26, 2003
    9
    A stunning movie, underserving of some of the criticism which has been directed towards it. The movie's harshest critics seem to expect from it a conventional narrative- a notion entirely incompatible with the film's artistic ambitions. The film works brilliantly as a comment on Russian history and politics- the status of a country torn between the East and the West. The tour A stunning movie, underserving of some of the criticism which has been directed towards it. The movie's harshest critics seem to expect from it a conventional narrative- a notion entirely incompatible with the film's artistic ambitions. The film works brilliantly as a comment on Russian history and politics- the status of a country torn between the East and the West. The tour takes the viewer through the repeated mistakes of history, vanished tyrants and forgotten diplomats. It is admittedly not a film for those of short attention span. But for those that can stomach the movie's ponderous nature, it proves a masterpiece. Expand
  8. FredM.
    Feb 23, 2003
    9
    An amazing cinematic event - visually stunning and sweeping mediation on Russian culture/history and the role of art. Helps to know a little bit about Russian history. Best seen on a large screen - sit back and enjoy the flow.
  9. MissyK.
    Mar 24, 2003
    10
    Absolutely dazzling. It was just like being on a gided tour of the Hermatage, but the film was kept entertaining by the continuous mystery in the storyline. The one-take shooting of the film added to the stunning effect of the film.
  10. KaterinaD.
    Apr 3, 2003
    10
    Wonderful artistic film!
  11. MacJ.
    Apr 3, 2003
    9
    You really have to brush up on your Russian History to see this movie. It was great, but kind of like a big inside joke. Would have been nice to have known Russian too, but that would take at least a few years to rectify. Overall, the cinematograpy was groundbreaking, the concept interesting, the dialogue engrossing, and the set/costumes amazing.
  12. C.Thornhill
    Jun 19, 2003
    10
    An astonishment!
  13. LukeS.
    Jun 6, 2004
    9
    Nothing like this has been done before. The viewer is sucked into a journey of discovery - you live the dream that anyone who has travelled will know: the desire to have seen history as it unfolded.
  14. PatC.
    Feb 23, 2003
    9
    At times a bit tedious, but do not let this stop you from seeing this fabulous movie. brilliantly implemented movie about russian history.
  15. RossB.
    Mar 23, 2003
    9
    Russian Ark is perhaps one of the best films I have seen in quite some time. It combines individual characters, symbolism and the concept of what a museum should be. For all of those who will attend Russian Ark, keep the title in mind and attempt to make connections between the Hermitage museum and the title. Anyone who leaves the theater perplexed should visit www.russianark.spb.ru/eng/ Russian Ark is perhaps one of the best films I have seen in quite some time. It combines individual characters, symbolism and the concept of what a museum should be. For all of those who will attend Russian Ark, keep the title in mind and attempt to make connections between the Hermitage museum and the title. Anyone who leaves the theater perplexed should visit www.russianark.spb.ru/eng/ to learn Sokurov?s most apparent attempted message contained within the movie. Expand
  16. DaveS.
    Jan 14, 2005
    10
    I woke up and it was all a dream.
  17. 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
  18. 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.