Russian Ark
Directed by Alexander Sokurov, Russia 2003
96 mins. Russian dialogue with English sub-titles

Filmed entirely in the Winter Palace of the Russian State Hermitage Museum using a single 96-minute Steadicam sequence shot, and featuring a cast of over 2,000, this historical drama film took four attempts to get a perfect, continuous, unbroken shot. An unnamed narrator wanders through the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. In each room, he encounters various real and fictional people from various periods in the city's 300-year history - including Catherine the Great and Tsar Nicholas II. He is accompanied by "the European", who represents the Marquis de Custine, a 19th-century French traveller. Russian Ark uses the fourth wall device extensively, but it is repeatedly broken and re-erected. At times the narrator and the European interact with the other performers, while at other times they pass unnoticed. With a lush score conducted by Valery Gergiev.

What the Critics say:
"Apart from anything else, this is one of the best-sustained ideas I have ever seen on the screen ..."  (Roger Ebert)