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Synopsis: Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov (THE SUN) broke boundaries with his dreamlike vision of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russian Ark. It’s the first feature-length narrative film shot in a single take (on digital video, using a specially designed disc instead of tape.)

Russian Ark is shot from the point-of-view of an unseen narrator, as he explores the museum and travels through Russian history. The audience sees through his eyes as he witnesses Peter the Great (Maksim Sergeyev) abusing one of his generals; Catherine the Great (Maria Kuznetsova) desperately searching for a bathroom; and in the grand finale, the sumptuous Great Royal Ball of 1913. The narrator is eventually joined by a sarcastic and eccentric 19th century French Marquis (Sergey Dreiden,) who travels with him throughout the huge grounds, encountering various historical figures and viewing the legendary artworks on display. While the narrator only interacts with the Marquis (he seems to be invisible to all the other inhabitants,) the Marquis occasionally interacts with visitors and former residents of the museum.

The film was obviously shot in one day, but the cast and crew rehearsed for months to time their movements precisely with the flow of the camera while capturing the complex narrative, with elaborate costumes from different periods, and several trips out to the exterior of the museum. Tilman Buttner, the director of photography, was responsible for capturing it all in one single Steadicam shot. In Russian with English subtitles.


Drama Fantasy Historical





Run Time

99 minutes




Aleksandr Sokurov (The Narrator )
Leonid Mozgovoy (The Spy )
Mariya Kuznetsova (Catherine The Great )
Sergey Dreyden (The Stranger)

Directed by

Aleksandr Sokurov

Written by

Boris Khaimsky
Anatoli Nikiforov
Svetlana Proskurina
Aleksandr Sokurov

Produced by

Andrey Deryabin
Jens Meurer
Karsten Stöter

Edited by

Stefan Ciupek
Sergey Ivanov
Betina Kuntzsch


Sergei Yevtushenko


Tilman Büttner


Toronto International Film Festival - Canada - 2002

Visions Award (Aleksandr Sokurov)

San Francisco Film Critics Circle - USA - 2003

Special Citation "Better Late Than Never" citation. (Aleksandr Sokurov)

Society of Camera Operators - USA - 2008

Historical Shot (Tilman Büttner)


Cannes Film Festival - France - 2002

Palme d'Or


The movie's smooth voyage comes to seem like a dream play, suspended painlessly in time. - Aaron Cutler , Village Voice

Might well be the first real masterpiece of the 21st Century. - Robert Denerstein , Denver Rocky Mountain News

A marvel of a film that makes the Hermitage its star. - Roger Moore , Orlando Sentinel

This is a stunning film, a one-of-a-kind tour de force. - Eric Harrison , Houston Chronicle


Rotten Tomatoes - Certified Fresh! - [Rotten Tomatoes]

Country of Origin


Production Year


Aspect Ratio

1.78 : 1

Sound Mix

Dolby Digital


Sony CineAlta HDW-F900, Canon Lens


Digital HDTV

Official Website

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