Russian Ark ★★★½

This is part of the 30 countries challenge.

There's so much going on in this but the single take makes it hard to separate content from the mood. It's clever to have a 19th century French guide, as he's consistently unimpressed with the Russians trying to copy European culture. The poor narrator knows more about what was to come later in the century when the influences turned into great Russian art in its own right, and the devastating effects of withdrawing from Europe after that.

The movie is full of melancholy but also a curiosity and genuine appreciation for art and awareness of history as part of an endless timeline. The bits about political threats to the museum are surprisingly chilling when you sense the powerless dread in the stoic narrator. There are long sequences in between these moments that hit hard, which holds it back a little. The final shots of the French marquis and all the way to the end are haunting though.

Carl liked this review