Alexander Sokurov, Russian Ark (2002)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Movies
December 22nd, 2003 • 2:16 am

A strangely intoxicating movie. It’s experimental, yet accessible. It’s a technical tour de force (the whole 96-minute movie consists of one single take, shot in real-time, with thousands of actors, live orchestras, etc.), yet it feels perfectly natural. It has no plot to speak of, but has a dream-like quality that enthrals the viewer.

The actual message of the movie is murky — something about life and death, the passage of time, nostalgia, etc. — and probably requires repeated viewings to figure out. The ark in the title appears to refer to the entire world evoked in the movie, which, in the final seconds of the movie, is shown — through an open window — to be floating on icy waters.

But it doesn’t really matter. The real quality of this movie, in my view, is that it opens up a whole new paradigm for movie making. The whole experience feels so natural that you cannot help but feel that many other movies will need to be made using the same technical process, about many other topics.

Will it happen? It’s hard to tell. Such movies obviously have limited commercial appeal in today’s industry, but it’s fairly easy to envision movies made using the same process that would have more of a plot, more entertainment value, so to speak. I, for one, certainly hope that this movie will be treated not only as the remarkable achievement that it is, but also as a starting point for a whole new genre of movies.

It is also worth noting that the whole movie was shot in digital form. Everything about the picture is absolutely gorgeous — and it’s not only due to the content. We are obviously only beginning to scratch the surface of what can be done with digital technology in movie making. But this is exactly the kind of movie that you will absolutely want to watch on DVD. I can only imagine what it would look like on a high definition TV. It must be an extraordinarily beautiful experience.

Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.