Francofonia ★★★½

Bonaparte is the funniest thing in the film, naturally enough. He's vexed at the Prussians who appear to be in his museum (the Nazis from the recreation) and he loves standing by the great paintings and declaring "It's me" like a megalomaniacal twitter meme. A comprehensive look at the museum and its history is of course impossible, so Sokurov focuses on the areas that interest him most: a collection of Assyrian artifacts, a 9,000 year old sculpture of a human figure from the Jordanian desert, paintings of the museum itself, of people touring its galleries and observing its works, a myriad of human faces in portrait. This latter section inspires the film's most fascinating rumination, as he speculates about what he (incorrectly) deems a uniquely European obsession with portraiture, and whether our ability to see what people look like hundreds of years ago changes our view of ourselves.

More at Seattle Screen Scene.

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