Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, 2002)

Er...can we start again? I've forgotten my lines.
What's it about? We are guided through 300 years of Russian history by a 'ghost' as he shows us round the Winter Palace (now a museum) in St Petersberg. But more importantly, it's a film consisting of a single 96 minute Steadicam shot. You gotta admit, that's kinda ambitious

Is it any good? Visually and technically, this is genuinely impressive - the mind boggles at the logistics involved in making it work so fluently. It also invites all sorts of intellectual comment on theatre/cinema, time, perspective, and so on, if you're so inclined. But, as with all museum tours, even a 'living' one, interesting parts of art, culture and history inevitably share space with stuff that is not. And our tour guide won't be getting a tip from me. A tour-de-force, for sure, but still a tour.

Anything else I should know? Over 2,000 actors were choreographed around the 33 rooms of the museum, with the whole thing captured successfully on the fourth take. I'm guessing the people taking part in the final few minutes were slightly nervous.

What does the Fonz think? Gotta give credit for the achievement.

Buy it on Amazon

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