Russian Ark (2002)

Russian Ark

Russian Ark Review

Russian Ark is a 2002 Russian historical drama film directed by Alexander Sokurov. It is one of the most famous Russian films and to me it is such an overrated movie.

It is set in the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg and, through the narrator and his meetings with the people from different eras, it follows three centuries of Russian history and also art. I was so incredibly disappointed with this film, it is indescribably overrated and just so disappointing mainly because it has such a unique premise and a lot of unfortunately misguided and awfully put to use potential. The stories are almost non-existent as is the entire plot of this movie which has a serious lack of identity. It doesn’t know what it wants to be, it isn’t a documentary, but it most certainly isn’t a drama either. The historical part is also mediocre as it was so confusing with its shifting through different time periods that are also not arranged properly of course. All of that I found really annoying.

But what was the most frustrating in Russian Ark is definitely its cinematography! God, do I hate this kind of camera approach. The choice to have just one, uninterrupted take is a bad one because it is awfully executed, very forced and even seems amateurish from time to time. I really found that the most annoying aspect.

The characters are also so forgettable and the narrator is frankly annoying. The acting is solid, but also nothing too remarkable either. And the direction is solid at times, but weak at other times. It is so misguided and so awfully approached as well.

However, Russian Ark has its strengths. The finale is so beautiful and I adored it as it was so satisfying. Also some of the sequences were memorable and the technical aspects apart from the cinematography are all really good. I loved its imagery and of course its costume design which is excellent. I also really liked its score and the overall look of some scenes, no matter how static and badly photographed they were. It surely looks good and a great effort is put into making the sets look real and it paid off as that is the sole reason to see this movie in my honest opinion.

The dialogue is also solid and it has its moments, but it unfortunately never makes use of its premise and it never explains anything either historically or artistically speaking which is why it is such a poor art and history lesson when it could have easily been a great one. The film was not nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film which was a weird choice and a snub, but to me is good as it is far from a good, let alone great movie. Such a vast disappointment.

Russian Ark is such a huge disappointment and such an overrated movie. It has a great premise, the finale is moving and the film looks good with great imagery and excellent sets and costume design, but the cinematography is just so awfully executed and really annoying and the film is confusing and fails as both a history and an art lesson, while also never knowing what movie it wants to be.

My Rating – 2.5


      Interior & Exterior Stills from Russian Ark

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Posted in 2000s, 2002, Drama, Foreign, Historical, MOVIE REVIEWS, Russian and tagged , , , , , .

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