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. JulieP.
    Jul 5, 2003
    2
    I went to see this movie in the middle of the afternoon with my mother and father. Despite our most valient efforts, we were all asleep within half an hour. Perhaps we are simply too gauche to truely appreciate this "tour de force," but I would suspect it also had something to do with the fact that there is neither any story nor any editing of the non-story in the entire picture.
  2. 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
  3. LizR.
    Jun 19, 2003
    3
    Slow, boring, often incomprehensible - you'd have to have detailed knowledge of Russian history to understand most of it. Often the actors and extras looked straight at the camera. Inconsistent - sometimes the wandering commentator was invisible to the people around him, other times he was visible. It could have been so much better. Why are people so taken in by technical achievement Slow, boring, often incomprehensible - you'd have to have detailed knowledge of Russian history to understand most of it. Often the actors and extras looked straight at the camera. Inconsistent - sometimes the wandering commentator was invisible to the people around him, other times he was visible. It could have been so much better. Why are people so taken in by technical achievement - talk about form over content. Expand
  4. DavidB.
    Sep 26, 2003
    1
    I like some experimental movies. Heck, I liked "Gerry" a lot! But this... maybe if one was either 1) a Russian or 2) a historian of Russia it would be interesting. Okay, so they made a movie in one long shot. Good job there! So what? That's the only thing of interest about this film. When there's no plot, the rest of the film better be pretty engrossing. Take MY DINNER WITH I like some experimental movies. Heck, I liked "Gerry" a lot! But this... maybe if one was either 1) a Russian or 2) a historian of Russia it would be interesting. Okay, so they made a movie in one long shot. Good job there! So what? That's the only thing of interest about this film. When there's no plot, the rest of the film better be pretty engrossing. Take MY DINNER WITH ANDRE as counterpoint. I like that film pretty well. To me, RUSSIAN ARK is like MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. Except every sentence starts, "Remember that time in Russian history when..." A disaster. I guess you love it or hate it. I hate it. Expand
  5. GaborA.
    Jul 25, 2005
    3
    Russian history? The only thing i learned during the duration of this movie was that all russian men have some form of facial hair. 90 minute art display/fasion show with a silly, unexplained surreal twist.
  6. JarrettB.
    Aug 28, 2003
    5
    Russian Ark was like meeting the most exotic, beautiful woman in the world who has absolutely nothing important to say. To some it up in one sentence, and I admit this is a rather immature and unprofessional sumation: SEE IT ON DRUGS.
  7. DanielW.
    Sep 25, 2003
    2
    It's happened before and it will undoubtedly happen again, that I go and watch a movie with raving reviews, only to find myself very bored and wondering why am I not getting it? I usually find I agree with the direction the reviews go in, not this time and I knew the film would be somewhat experimental. I didn't understand what the movie was trying to say. To me there It's happened before and it will undoubtedly happen again, that I go and watch a movie with raving reviews, only to find myself very bored and wondering why am I not getting it? I usually find I agree with the direction the reviews go in, not this time and I knew the film would be somewhat experimental. I didn't understand what the movie was trying to say. To me there didn't seem to be a point. If the aim was to make a kind of documentary about the Hermitage I could think of ways in which that could have been done in a much more interesting fashion. The big costumed ball scene didn't do anything for me either. As an aside, watching the credits, I couldn't help but wonder why it is that at least three German authorities had financially supported the making of this Russian film? Expand
  8. 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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  9. JohnS.
    Jan 8, 2004
    2
    A perfect example of why critics go to the "cinema" and the rest of us go to the movies. Reminds me of those silly modern art pieces that everyone else laughs at while the art critics drool all over themselves. Save your money hours of your life and just rent a PBS documentary on the Hermitage.
  10. YakovC.
    Mar 4, 2003
    2
    This movie does not explain anything about the Hermitage. All you see is some bad dialogue, and really good costumes. How can you look at good costumes for over an hour when there is no plot or explanation? This one is quite a sleeper.
  11. 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
  12. HeatherA.
    Jun 16, 2003
    9
    Loved it - will go again.
  13. 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.
  14. HollyW.
    Oct 9, 2003
    8
    A visual feast, and as good meals go, there is no choice but to enjoy it without a plot or particular end in mind. as the fine arts go, there is much to be had within the film and for the lover of the creative, the way it is filmed makes you feel like you're actually there: you feel the cold and silent snow, you turn your head as you alight staircases, you can't see over theA visual feast, and as good meals go, there is no choice but to enjoy it without a plot or particular end in mind. as the fine arts go, there is much to be had within the film and for the lover of the creative, the way it is filmed makes you feel like you're actually there: you feel the cold and silent snow, you turn your head as you alight staircases, you can't see over the shoulder of the man in front of you, and you shove your way out of the grand hall after the ball. titillating and brilliant, and particularly rich for those who know the particulars of russian history. Expand
  15. JoeyL.
    Feb 28, 2003
    8
    It tests the boundaries of what actualy constitutes a film, but that is beside the point. Russian Ark is gorgeous, surreal, impressive, and poignant.
  16. 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
  17. MichaelS.
    Mar 11, 2003
    7
    Beautifully made, formally rigorous. Thing is, a topic as huge as Russian history cannot really be summed up in a single film, and Sokurov's treatment of everything in his perview comes off as being a little shallow. Still, as the posing of a provocative problem -- Russia's uneasy relationship to European culture -- and as a carnival ride, RUSSIAN ARK delivers.
  18. ChadS.
    Apr 3, 2003
    5
    In a non-experimental movie, if what you notice most is the great art direction and costumes, something is wrong. In "Russian Ark", that's what I admired most. If you're not an aspiring filmmaker, or Russian history buff, I can't imagine what interest you'd have in following a man around a museum for ninety-plus minutes. What prevented "Russian Ark" from being a total In a non-experimental movie, if what you notice most is the great art direction and costumes, something is wrong. In "Russian Ark", that's what I admired most. If you're not an aspiring filmmaker, or Russian history buff, I can't imagine what interest you'd have in following a man around a museum for ninety-plus minutes. What prevented "Russian Ark" from being a total wash-out for me was the indelible final image. Like Mike Figgis' "Time Code", the movie can't just be about the process. "Russian Ark" is nothing more than an astonishing technical achievement, and that's why it doesn't merit an outright pan. At the seventy-five minute mark, to stave off unconsciousness, I imagined Carrot Top leading us through the Hermitage. Expand
  19. 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.
  20. 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. Collapse
  21. KW
    Sep 14, 2003
    8
    Visually astonishing, first of all. The amazing grandeur of the Hermitage, elaborate costuming, and the unique point of view would catch my eye even without the knowledge that it was all one shot. I did spend the first half hour wondering what was going on until I quit looking for a substantive plot. (There isn't one. Just enjoy the ride.) And brush up on your Russian history first. Visually astonishing, first of all. The amazing grandeur of the Hermitage, elaborate costuming, and the unique point of view would catch my eye even without the knowledge that it was all one shot. I did spend the first half hour wondering what was going on until I quit looking for a substantive plot. (There isn't one. Just enjoy the ride.) And brush up on your Russian history first. -- there were some scenes that didn't make too much sense to me until I went and looked up the context afterward; I'd like to see it again with that knowledge in mind. Expand
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. PatrickD.
    Apr 22, 2003
    8
    A bit slow a times, but I couldn't help marvell at it's technical brilliance. The period costumes were terrific, the Hermitage itself was amazingly beautiful, and the wrangling of all those extras is extraordinary to contemplate. I saw it a couple of months ago, and couldn't tell you a thing about the "plot", but the images are still very strong. Definitely worth A bit slow a times, but I couldn't help marvell at it's technical brilliance. The period costumes were terrific, the Hermitage itself was amazingly beautiful, and the wrangling of all those extras is extraordinary to contemplate. I saw it a couple of months ago, and couldn't tell you a thing about the "plot", but the images are still very strong. Definitely worth experiencing, just don't expect a story arc. Expand
  25. KaterinaD.
    Apr 3, 2003
    10
    Wonderful artistic film!
  26. 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.
  27. C.Thornhill
    Jun 19, 2003
    10
    An astonishment!
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Keri
    Mar 11, 2003
    2
    3 friends and I went to see this movie with very high hopes. We left baffled, having learned little or nothing of the Russian history or culture that we had set out to acquire. Cut in half, it would make an interesting piece for the Discovery Channel.
  31. 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
  32. DaveS.
    Jan 14, 2005
    10
    I woke up and it was all a dream.
  33. 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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  34. 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
  35. 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.