Russian Ark (DVD-NTSC)
Invisible to everyone around him, a contemporary filmmaker magically finds himself in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg- back in the early 1700’s! He meets a cynical French diplomat from the 19th Century and the men become accomplices in an extraordinary time-traveling journey through Russia’s turbulent past- ending in the present day. Exploring the splendid corridors and salons of the Palace, the Marquis and the filmmaker witness astonishing scenes from the Tsarist Empire: Peter the Great thrashes his general with a whip; during rehearsals of her own play, Catherine the Great rushes around looking for a place to relieve herself; the family of the last Tsar dine together, oblivious to the impending revolution; and hundreds of dancers waltz at the last Great Royal Ball of 1913 with Valery Gergiev conducting. As their time-voyage unfolds in a single, uncut steadicam shot, the two men engage in a passionate and ironic dispute. The Marquis clearly has a Western love-hate relationship with Russia, whereas the modern filmmaker questions his country’s uneasy connection to its past and to Europe today. The two tease each other, and share their amazement at the scenes they encounter. The Hermitage is the Russian Ark, affectionately guarding art and history until the world sees better days.

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