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Russian Ark (2002)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 99
Fresh: 88 | Rotten: 11

As successful as it is ambitious, Russian Ark condenses three centuries of Russian history into a single, uninterrupted, 87-minute take.


Average Rating: 8.4/10
Critic Reviews: 29
Fresh: 27 | Rotten: 2

As successful as it is ambitious, Russian Ark condenses three centuries of Russian history into a single, uninterrupted, 87-minute take.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 8,764

My Rating

Movie Info

Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov broke boundaries with his dreamlike vision of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russian Ark. It's the first feature-length narrative film shot in a single take (on digital video, using a specially designed disc instead of tape). Russian Ark is shot from the point-of-view of an unseen narrator, as he explores the museum and travels through Russian history. The audience sees through his eyes as he witnesses Peter the Great (Maksim Sergeyev) abusing one of his

Sep 9, 2003


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All Critics (109) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (88) | Rotten (11) | DVD (8)

Part pageant and museum tour, part theme-park ride and historical meditation.

October 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is as immersive-and as Shining-level spooky-as history gets.

September 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie's smooth voyage comes to seem like a dream play, suspended painlessly in time.

September 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Might well be the first real masterpiece of the 21st Century.

July 3, 2003
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A marvel of a film that makes the Hermitage its star.

June 13, 2003
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is a stunning film, a one-of-a-kind tour de force.

June 5, 2003 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despite an undeniable attraction to the majestic, Aleksandr Sokurov seems equally adverse to straightforward spectacle, approaching potentially colossal subjects from odd, specific angles.

April 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

It's worth noting that the footage was manipulated ... in post-production, but this unbroken take still functions as a documentary record of an exceptional logistical feat.

December 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

[Characterizes] history as a large rush of information so huge, alive, and easy to get lost in that it would feel a shame if there existed nothing to give us a conduit to it.

March 31, 2009 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

A film geek's dream movie. 90 minutes, one take.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

What is shown is ultimately less captivating than the manner in which it is shown.

February 8, 2005 Full Review Source:

Its technical bravura is impossible to deny. Even those whose knowledge of Russian history stems mainly from Sympathy For The Devil lyrics will find much to savor here.

January 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Portland Mercury

It's a rich, complex, and mystery-filled journey through Russian art and history.

January 15, 2005
Looking Closer

An audacious and insane experiment, a triumphant film.

July 7, 2004 Full Review Source: F5 (Wichita, KS)

Tras 12 minutos de escena de baile y orquesta, uno empieza a desear que los bolcheviques irrumpan en el palacio de una buena vez y empiecen a rodar cabezas.

May 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total | Comment (1)
Uruguay Total

Awash in nostalgia and dreamlike passiveness, reflecting the lack of a clear way forward for contemporary Russia.

January 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

The material is rather heady, but one needn't digest it in a single viewing. Even if you don't know much about Russian history, the work is breathtaking as a sort of cinematic ballet.

October 24, 2003

The uninterrupted flow seduces into a trance.

October 15, 2003 Full Review Source:

Sokurov's work here is impressive and says something interesting about how nice it might be to go back in history to simpler times.

September 14, 2003 Full Review Source:

It stands as an extraordinary technically achievement, if nothing else.

August 18, 2003 Full Review Source:

Obviously, it's an odd premise. But director Aleksandr Sokhurov does have fun with it.

August 15, 2003 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Sokurov's high-tech trick is also a beautifully fluid examination of Russian history and culture, and the most gorgeous museum tour you could imagine.

August 15, 2003 Full Review Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

A landmark achievement in the technical aspect of film and can be considered a worthwhile hour and a half.

August 12, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Audience Reviews for Russian Ark

A never-seen ghostlike figure wanders through the Hermitage Museum (previously home to the Czars) in St. Petersburg, watching re-enactments of Russian history and debating art and culture with a French aristocrat companion. With thousands of extras, it's pulled off in one amazing 95-minute take. It's more than a bit stuffy and tailored to the delicate sensibilities of the fine arts crowd, but it's impossible not to be impressed by the pageantry and technical achievement.
November 26, 2013
Greg S

Super Reviewer

Strangely captivating Russian fantasy-drama begins with an unknown man regaining consciousness without knowledge of his location. It is revealed that nobody can see him except a man dressed in black, who in turn doesn't know where he is, either. It's not long before the two men learn they are in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, through which the former man must move and regain his knowledge of present day Europe and Russia.

The film, intially released at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, is made up of one continuous, 90-minute shot. Aside from its taste of pure originality and concentration, RUSSIAN ARK has to offer some of the most beautiful moments ever. The combination of gracious cinematography, glorious classical music, and colorful costume designs will dazzle without a doubt.

Even if you don't know a word of Russian, you'd get the same experience from watching without enabling subtitles. RUSSIAN ARK may certainly have a plot, but after the first ten minutes or so, it is barely propelled by its story, and rather by its avant-garde style for capturing art, beauty, history, and music. It's possible to grow intermittently bored with such an unusual film, but it's captivating from the very start, and therefore hard to permanently give up on.

RUSSIAN ARK was an endlessly interesting film, in its plot and style. The fact that a cinematic project of such ingenuity was actually accomplished is unbelievable, and any true film fanatic would love it from beginning to end. Looking from both sides, it was not enough otherwise, making it useless for everyone else.
February 20, 2012

Super Reviewer

The ark here is the famous Hermitage of St.Petersburg, mysteriously afloat on the sea of time and of Russian history. The camera glidingly takes us through the opulent splendour of the great halls, lingering ever so over the detail in the architecture or some exquisite furniture, and we see those walkways and rooms peopled with the souls that must have tarried there before (as in a dream ... for they neither see nor hear us). And so a history lesson, a memorial if you will, a toast to what was Mother Russia (and not that whole Soviet business, what was that?), with a eye to what more may come.
January 25, 2012

Super Reviewer

One of the most extraordinary films I have ever seen. Shot I one breath as they say with 2,000 actors, 3 orchestras, 300 years of Russian History.
December 29, 2009

Super Reviewer

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