Russian Ark

By Aleksandr Sokurov

Russian Ark

A labyrinthine sequence full of art and life, this film presents 300 years of Russian history filmed in ONE smooth take! This visual feast begins in the dark, with the voice of director Aleksandr Sokurov (who has made several films on art in his career) asking, “Where am I? I see nothing!” A stranger responds, the cynical Marquis de Custine, who guides us through the enormous labyrinth of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Along the way we meet countless historical and illustrious figures like Peter and Catherine the Great, Tsar Nicholas I and II, and get glimpses at some of the masterpieces of the museum, paintings and sculptures from Da Vinci to Rembrandt, as we move towards a climax ending in an excessive waltz ball.

Russian Ark


A breathless journey through the past and a tour de force of cinematography, choreographed through 35 halls at the Hermitage in a single planned sequence, and involving about 2000 actors and extras and three orchestras. This unique experiment in film history evolves as a great epic in real time, combining diverse eras in one space.

The screening of Russian Ark is linked to Aliona van der Horst's two films on the Hermitage: The Hermitage Dwellers and Passie voor de Hermitage: Metamorfose

Russian Ark will be shown in the Filmmuseum an extra time on the Monday after DOKU.ARTS: 15 June, 19.15

  Russkiy kovcheg
Russia/Germany, 2002, 99min. 35mm
Russian. Subtitles: Dutch

Screenplay: Boris Khaimsky, Anatoli Nikiforov, Svetlana Proskurina, Aleksandr Sokurov
Cinematography: Tilman Büttner
Sound: Sergei Moshkov, Vladimir Persov
Editing: Stefan Ciupek, Sergei Ivanov, Betina Kuntzsch
Production: Andrey Deryabin, Jens Meurer, Karsten Stöter for the State Hermitage Museum and the Hermitage Bridge Studio
Distribution: Filmmuseum

Aleksandr Sokurov (1951) is a Russian filmmaker from St Petersburg. He graduated from the History Department of the Nizhny Novgorod University in 1974 and entered one of the VGIK studios the following year. Most of Sokurov's early films were banned by Soviet authorities. Mother and Son (1996) was his first internationally acclaimed feature film. He made several films on artists like Rostropovich, Tarkovsky and Solzhenitsyn.