Monday, October 20, 2008

Russian Ark

For years I was waiting to see this film. Some time back I read about this movie in the book Ullaga Cinema by Rama Krishnan. The fact according to the book goes like this, a movie without a cut. That is there is no editor or editing work in this film. The film runs 90 minutes uncut. But the book didn’t say what the story is, even when searched online doesn’t give a complete sense.
For some reason I always find it difficult to sense what the movie is by reading the review. All I see is the one line review, if there is any rating given, poster and the directors’ previous movies. Even trailers can mislead.
Now the name of the movie is “Russian Ark” directed by Alexander Sukurov. The main character of the film is an Italian traveler and a ghost.

What we see is the ghost’ view, so we can assume the camera is with the ghost
and it follows the Italian, the Italian can see the ghost and vice versa, but others can’t see the ghost, some can see the Italian and some not.

The film is shot in Russian Hermitage Museum, then a Winter Palace when Tsar ruled Russia, the film covers 33 rooms with 2000 actors.

As the Italian enters each room the period changes, like sometimes the film is in Tsar Period, so we can see the Catherina the Great in one room, Anastasia and her friends in another, Tsar Nicholas with his family in another, a coffin maker in Lenin-Stalin period, a present day museum on-looker in another room. So the Italian remains in the scene most of the time, and the camera follows him, he walks, talks and dance with the characters, giving his comments to the ghost, aka the camera, aka the viewers.

The movie is like a dream about the Russian history, finally there is a grand ball room dance and then there are some hundreds of people moving out of the winter palace, slow paced camera then moves out of the palace then we see sea, from this we can assume that we are in a ark, the ark which is carrying the entire history of Russia.

What does the film say,
 A director makes a movie with his views, but it can be interrupt in many ways. So if one thinks this a dream, it’s a dream which doesn’t have any meaning. One can think that the director tried to say the history.
One can say the director want to say how Russia was then and now. Or in a cinematic view he wants to make a 90-min uncut film and he used this plot.
Whatever it is, it was good to watch and re-watch it.