January 30, 2004

An Evening in Russia

Alex has an essay to write about the Russian revolution and it's not exactly flowing. To help build the mood, we went to Kensington Video, a San Diego treasure, and picked up an armload of tapes and a DVD to roll our own film festival. Tonight we watched Russian Ark.

What an amazing work! It's a tour of 300 years of Russian history told as a dreamlike walk through the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. The style is like a combination of Fellini and Kubrick, and the jawdroppingly astounding thing about it is that it was filmed all in a single continuous take. They had only one day to shoot the film as the Museum was going to be closed for them only that long. They decided that if something went wrong in the first 20 minutes they would start over, and something did go wrong three times. The fourth time was their last chance as the light was fading... and they did it. Ninety minutes of walking the camera along a 1.5 km path with 2000 actors representing everything from Peter the Great to the present.

I toured the Hermitage in the last year the city was called Leningrad, and there's no place like it in the world. This film brought that experience back to me and much more. Go rent it!

More info here, and here.



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