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Russian Ark: The Masterworks Edition (2002)

Anna Aleksakhina , Konstantin Anisimov , Alexander Sokurov  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)

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Russian Ark: The Masterworks Edition + The Hermitage: A Journey in Time & Space + Masterpieces of the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg
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Product Details

  • Actors: Anna Aleksakhina, Konstantin Anisimov, Aleksei Barabash, Aleksandr Chaban, Sergei Dontsov
  • Directors: Alexander Sokurov
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Russian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Wellspring
  • DVD Release Date: September 9, 2003
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • ASIN: B00009NHAT
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,268 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Russian Ark: The Masterworks Edition" on IMDb

Special Features

  • In Russian with English subtitles
  • Making-of
  • Mon Paradis interviews

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A modern filmmaker magically finds himself transported to the 18th century, where he embarks on a time-traveling journey through 300 years of Russian history in Alexander Sokurov’s masterpiece. Filmed in HD with directors commentary

Russian master Alexander Sokurov has tapped into the very flow of history itself for this flabbergasting film. Thanks to the miracles of digital video, Sokurov (and cinematographer Tilman Buttner) uses a single, unbroken, 90-minute shot to wind his way through the Hermitage in St. Petersburg--the repository of Russian art and the former home to royalty. Gliding through time, we glimpse Catherine II, modern-day museumgoers, and the doomed family of Nicholas II. History collapses on itself, as the opulence of the past and the horrors of the 20th century collide, and each door that opens onto yet another breathtaking gallery is another century to be heard from. The movie climaxes with a grand ball and thousands of extras, prompting thoughts of just how crazy Sokurov had to be to try a technical challenge like this--and how far a distance we've traveled, both physically and spiritually, since the movie began. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
125 of 131 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars St.Petersburg 's Hermitage is the Russian Ark January 31, 2004
A visually spellbinding feat of cinematic technology by the Director, Alexsandr Sokurov brings us the "Russian Ark". This movie takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia, and brings us ninety minutes of the history of "The Hermitage Museum" told in an unusual image of the 18th and 19th centuries. The remarkable piece of this movie is that it is shot in one fluid take using High Definition video cameras.
The State Hermitage is in actuality 6 buildings on the embankment of the River Neva. The most magnificent of the buildings is the Winter Palace, residence of Russian Tsars from 1754 to 1762. The Hermitage took 2 1/2 centuries to build and exemplifies pieces from the Stone Age to the 20th Century. There are over 3 million pieces of art on display from Da Vinci to Monet. Some of the most exciting times took place during the German Invasion in 1941. We are indeed fortunate that many hid the treasures within, and that the treasures were found after the war. The Hermitage is open to the public and you can find more information on their web page:
867 actors practiced for months to dance the mazurka in the ballroom, march to a military salute or watch a theatre performance. There was one take only and anything could go wrong at any time. There were years of development and preparation for the 4 hours of filming. Sokurov depended upon German HD specialists KOPP MEDIA to assist with the details of the script. How a camera would move, the distance of feet to be covered in the narrative, and the use of a steadicam. A hard disk recording system was developed that was portable and equipped with an ultra-stable battery. One shooting day with 4 hours of light was the magic number.
A Marquis, a limber European in dress black is the film's guide.
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141 of 153 people found the following review helpful
One of the most visually stunning films ever made, Alexandr Sokurov's RUSSIAN ARK is a landmark creation on many levels, many of which have been touted in numerous articles and reviews. From a purely technological aspect, it's the first feature-length film ever made using a single camera photographing a single 96-minute shot in one take, with no edits. The documentary feature on the DVD gives the viewer an inside look at the challenges of this approach - made more daunting by the fact that during the winter in St. Petersburg, the crew only had about 4 hours of daylight with which to work. The logistics requiring the crew surrounding the camera - including the director - to stay out of view, even as the cinematographer spun 360º from time to time, are a major work or choreography in themselves. Sokurov's dedication to his project - and the dedication of his crewmembers - is both apparent and very moving.
In an interview included in the `making of' documentary on the DVD, the director states `I'm sick of editing. I don't want to experiment with time. I want to screen real time - it should be as it is. One doesn't have to fear the flow of time.' So many filmmakers are so concerned that their audience's attention span is so short that they will become bored if things don't `move right along' - it lowers cinema to the `lowest common denominator', fails to challenge the audience, and, in the final analysis, insults the viewer's intelligence. There's no danger of that in any of Sokurov's work - the viewer's mind (and emotions) are given quite a workout, and, as with physical exercise, are stronger for it in the end.
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars St Petersburg as an Ark of Russian Culture September 16, 2003
Aleksandr Sokurov has created a unique, wondrous masterpiece of a film in his great homage of Russian history and art and the Hermitage Museum. Four years in the planning, a cast of thousands, exquisite reproductions of costumes that span the three hundred years of Russian history, and brilliant cinematography by the German Tilman Buttner, Sokurov has condensed the essence of Russian culture in a 90 minute non-stop 'live' filming within the halls of the Hermitage museum (all 5 palaces known as the winter palaces of the Tsars). The result is an enchanting, bewitching, meandering tour of Russian from the time of Catherine the Great, Peter the Great, Pushkin, the Romanovs - Nicholas I and II - to the final ball in the palace the night Tsarist Russia ended. Our tour guide is the off camera voice of Sokurov in conversation with a French Marquis and assorted ghosts of the past as we seamlessly view glimpses of Russia's past, scenes like an actual play that Catherine the Great wrote and watched, the writer Pushkin, the Romanov family at their last supper in the palace and the grand ball that culminates this stage of the glory of Russia. The ballroom scene is resplendent with vast numbers of costumed actors dancing a mazurka to the music (Glinka's mazurka from his opera 'The Life of the Tsar') provided by the Maryinski Orchestra conducted by no less than Valery Gergiev! As the guests finally leave the Hermitage museum the camera focuses on an open window overlooking the sea on which the city of St Peterburg floats. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent film
Published 24 days ago by Jean-Pierre Auger
5.0 out of 5 stars Russian Ark is simply beautiful.
For anyone interested in Russian history. Simply beautiful! Very much loved the ballroom scene and the orchestra.
Published 1 month ago by EDB
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great dvd, arrived quickly, so pleased to have this as part of my collection. Thanks
Published 1 month ago by Robert Leonard Moran
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dream Of History
Beautifully made, a splendid filmmaking stunt, intelligent and thought-provoking even if it does seem to have a sentimental attachment to the good old days of the Tsars.
Published 1 month ago by Tom From NY
1.0 out of 5 stars I was really disappointed
I was really disappointed. It's a remarkable achievement cinematically, but it leaves me feeling cold. Not entertaining. The Winter Palace is still pretty, though...
Published 1 month ago by Andrei Bolkonsky
4.0 out of 5 stars Magnifique, wonderful failure
This is hard to review. I think it is a magnificent failure. It’s a failure because it could have done so much more in the way of interesting commentary on the art objects... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Karl E. Weaver
5.0 out of 5 stars love Russion history
The technology in filming is mind boggling.
It is shot in one continious stream.
love Russion history.
Published 2 months ago by Joyce B. Keller
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 3 months ago by RCW
5.0 out of 5 stars Fastest 90 minutes ever
A great way to see the Hermitage and capture an overview of Russian history. Easier to follow if you already have a sense of it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by V. Morgan
1.0 out of 5 stars Subtitles not visible
In Russian, but the English subtitles were two lines, and only the first line showed up on my HD Sony Bravia tv. Totally incomprehensible with every other sentence missing.
Published 3 months ago by vamp fan
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Topic From this Discussion
It should be.
Jun 19, 2009 by Angus Mackay |  See all 2 posts
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