There are various nude busts, statues and paintings around the museum, but no ‘real-life’ nudity or sex.


Film review:Translated by www.rabudo-ru.com


Alexander sokonov’s 2002 work “Russian Ark” can be called a very extreme experimental film. The whole film has 90 minutes and only one shot.

The whole film begins on the black screen. The voice of a male narrator (i.e. the director, we only hear his voice in the whole film, but we don’t hear him) tells us that he has experienced an accident. When he regained consciousness, a group of young soldiers appeared on the screen, who are in St. Petersburg in the 18th century and are about to attend a ball. The narrator doesn’t know why he came to Russia in the 18th century. Just when he was confused, he met another Frenchman Marquis who came here somehow. He was a diplomat and originally lived in France in the 19th century. Therefore, two “lost people” walked together. They saw that emperor Peter the great was scolding his subordinates and Queen Catherine was anxious to go to the toilet. Then they inadvertently walked into the famous Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. During this period, they crossed 35 rooms, visited hundreds of famous Western oil paintings and sculptures, and experienced the ceremony of Iranian envoys visiting the czar, They happened to meet the “last dinner” of the Nicholas Caesar family and ended their “journey” at the last Grand Waltz ball of the last royal family in the 1913’s – French diplomats decided to stay “here”. The narrator “boarded the Russian Ark” and began to drift on the boundless sea. The whole journey spans four centuries from 1800s to 2100S, just like witnessing the prosperity and decline of the first socialist country on earth.

Russia • Europe

Russia spans two continents of Asia and Europe, where Eastern and Western cultures blend. Russia has always been eager for European identity, but for Europe at that time, Russia was just their little brother, and they did not recognize the fact that Russia was a member of Europe. As a representative of Europe, marquis, a French diplomat in the film, constantly advertised European music and painting in front of the narrator in the first half of the film. For the beautiful Russian music, he claimed that it was done by German composers because “composers are all German”; For Russia’s outstanding oil paintings and sculptures, he claimed that they were imported from Italy or copied, because “Russians are all copycats”. However, no matter how hard he tried to maintain his belief that “Europe is better than Russia”, in the great winter palace, in the famous Hermitage Museum, he was shocked by hundreds of art treasures collected by Peter the great and Catherine the great, and even bowed to the buildings of the Hermitage museum itself, from the palace gate, channel to doorpost, From the imposing hall to the gorgeous exhibition room, he was filled with emotion. At the last Grand Court ball, marquis succumbed. He said to the narrator, I want to stay, stay here. Here, the narrator uses the metaphor of marquis to convey the director’s belief that “Russia belongs to Europe”.

Art • art • memory • history

In the film, marquis and the narrator have repeatedly expressed impressive admiration and shock for the magnificent architecture of Hermitage museum itself, as well as many oil paintings and thousands of sculptures in the museum’s collection. Located in the city center of St. Petersburg, the winter palace is known as the business card of St. Petersburg. It is full of all the bedrooms, luxury rooms and banquet halls of the Czar Dynasty. At the same time, successive czar rulers, according to their personal preferences, will collect a large number of art works in it. Its collection reached its peak when the famous romantic Empress Catherine II in history. In order to make it an elegant place full of artistic flavor, the empress collected a large number of Western oil paintings and works of art from the ancient East, Egypt and Rome.

Sparks once said that before memory became a science and reduced to a computer function, memory was an art, so memory was always integrated with literature, painting, sculpture and, most importantly, architecture. I would like to say that perhaps the more accurate expression is: art is a kind of memory. Memory represents the past and the past represents history, so art can also represent a kind of history. In praising the architecture of the Hermitage Museum and its internal art works, we feel the narrator (as a modern Russian)’s memory of the history of the Hermitage Museum – its most prosperous period, and it seems that it is also the memory of the glorious history of Russia.

Here, I played a word game. I said “art” is a kind of memory, but I didn’t say “art” is a kind of memory, because I think art not only includes material “art”, but also contains a kind of “artistic spirit”. If the former is a kind of memory, it will become history, but I don’t think the latter will. Therefore, art can be passed on and live forever. Therefore, in this sense, the narrator (director) in the film not only cherishes the glorious history of Russia, but also calls for an “artistic spirit” that can be inherited through time, which means the unique tenacity and perseverance of the Russian people during the Czar’s rule, because the winter palace is located in St. Petersburg, It was Peter the great who led the Russian people to build it in the boundless swamps and dark forests. After the establishment of St. Petersburg, people successively built the winter palace and Hermitage Museum. Therefore, in modern Russia, artistic spirit also contains this meaning. Therefore, St. Petersburg is regarded as the “eternal Russian Ark”. I think the spirit of building St. Petersburg here can help the Russian people out of difficulties at any time.

Emotional point • one mirror to the end

The film is 90 minutes in total. People who want to see it are deeply impressed by one of the scenes. In about 46 minutes, the camera “walked” out of the Hermitage museum to show that Catherine II slowly stepped out of the historical stage. In the first 45 minutes, the camera as the narrator’s perspective has been wandering around the Hermitage museum to visit the museum. At about 46 minutes, marquis and the narrator met Kathleen II in the museum. She looked weak. When Kathleen II walked out of the museum with the help of his servants and came to a long road full of snow outside the museum, When the narrator (i.e. the camera) followed and slowly pushed forward as he hobbled along the long snow trail, the picture changed from interior to exterior, from closed to open, combined with the snowflakes covering the whole long trail, giving people a complete sense of sudden openness, just like the release of a grievance accumulated in the heart for a long time. Even after less than 2 minutes, the lens turned indoors again. Here, it is not an accident for 46 kinds to turn outdoors.

Usually, a wonderful film has three emotional nodes and one emotional point, which often occurs in the middle of the film. Generally speaking, the emotional point divides the whole story into two halves, which is the turning point of the protagonist’s emotion. Here, marquis changed his mood before and after this scene. In the first half, he was an outright European supporter, that is, he did his best to disdain Russian music and painting, but too many shocks in the Hermitage Museum overturned his original belief, and started from this scene, We will find that Marquis took the initiative to join the Grand Waltz ball and finally decided to stay here.

As mentioned earlier, there is only one lens in the whole film, which adopts the method of “one lens to the end”, but I don’t feel the monotony of the lens at all. The reason is that the push, pull and shake of the lens are very beautiful. At that time, it dives and slides, sometimes translates and pulls in, showing the changeable characteristics of the lens in the same lens. The pleasure of the long shot is “discovery”. In the shot, we found the secret of the winter palace and Hermitage museum together with Marquis and the narrator – Peter the great scolded his subordinates, Catherine the great hurried to the toilet, the last dinner of Nicholas Kasai family. We witnessed the Czar’s luxurious life and enjoyed hundreds of world-famous paintings and sculptures Witnessed the gradual decline of Russia, encountered angels and death, and finally boarded the “Ark” with the narrator to drift and drift on the boundless sea.

The sea rolls forward, history rolls forward, the Utopia of the past is dead, and our heart does not die, because we believe that the “artistic spirit” does not die.

In the artistic “curiosity hunting” of “one mirror to the end”, Alexander sokonov showed us the charm of Art – “the charm of artistic spirit”.

Like Russia, may the Russian ark never sink.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here