Russian Ark – Screening At The Walters Art Museum

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Director: Aleksandr Sokurov


2002, Russia, 1 hour 39 minutes

Program Notes

At The Walters Art Museum’s Graham Auditorium


Thursday, January 25


6:45-8:30 p.m.


Free for WAM and MdFF members/Non-Members $10


In conjunction with the exhibition Fabergé and the Russian Craft Tradition, the Walters is teaming up with the Maryland Film Festival (MdFF) to present a week (January 19-25) of exciting Russian films from different eras and across genres. Filmed in a single take – the longest in cinema history – Russian Ark (2002) is a historical drama that moves through the rooms of the famous Winter Palace in St Petersburg, exploring 300 years of Russian history. This film will be show a the Walters; others in the series will be screened at the MdFF Parkway Theatre


Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov (THE SUN) 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 generals; Catherine the Great (Maria Kuznetsova) desperately searching for a bathroom; and, in the grand finale, the sumptuous Great Royal Ball of 1913. The narrator is eventually joined by a sarcastic and eccentric 19th century French Marquis (Sergey Dreiden), who travels with him throughout the huge grounds, encountering various historical figures and viewing the legendary artworks on display. While the narrator only interacts with the Marquis (he seems to be invisible to all the other inhabitants), the Marquis occasionally interacts with visitors and former residents of the museum. The film was obviously shot in one day, but the cast and crew rehearsed for months to time their movements precisely with the flow of the camera while capturing the complex narrative, with elaborate costumes from different periods, and several trips out to the exterior of the museum. Tilman Buttner, the director of photography, was responsible for capturing it all in one single Steadicam shot. In Russian with English subtitles.



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