For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.
3,451 Ratings

Russian Ark

Русский ковчег

Directed by Aleksandr Sokurov
Russia, Germany, 2002
Avant-Garde, Drama, History


Shot in one long, continuous take, a 19th century French marquis takes a surreal trip through Russian and European history via a labyrinth of neverending ballrooms and corridors. Filmed entirely in the The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what’s now showing
Russian Ark Directed by Aleksandr Sokurov
The auteur’s compatriot Tarkovsky once said that Russians are fatally attached to their roots, and Sokurov’s deep personal investment in the St Petersburg he lives in enlivens the film’s every frame.
February 09, 2016
Read full article
In the decade since the film’s premiere, digital has become the primary means of cinematic production, but despite some individual instances of formal advancement, it’s arguable that no film has yet married the historical properties of cultural and cinematic evolution as seamlessly as Russian Ark.
November 21, 2013
Read full article
Part essay film, part historical pageant, the film alternates past glories with periods of hardship—a cyclical sense of culture that’s central to Russian nationalism, and Sokurov’s work. A radical piece of conservative art.
October 25, 2013
Read full article

What are people saying?

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film Russian Ark

    The technical achievement shows post-production seams, and I'm ambivalent about its high-brow allegorical hand-holding. But when it hits a sweet spot of lucidity, abstraction, and Sternberg grandeur, it's something: a trip through the culture/history of an isolated country, seen by a melancholy artist loyal to it in spite of its flaws—and knowing how hard it'd be to change course even if you knew the right direction.

  • Jérémy Poirier's rating of the film Russian Ark

    A magnificently poetic and surreal meditation on death, life and time. The fact that it is one long 93 minute sequence is absolutely amazing. The kind of film I would love to let play in the background all day long.

  • Renton47's rating of the film Russian Ark

    How to approach a film so specifically about the weight of history when most of that history is lost on me? Sokurov's opulent vision was thus simultaneously immersive and alienating, an enticing party that I knew I'd not been invited to. Is it an attempt to connect with ghosts, or a mockery of the inflated importance of aristocrats who forget that only art prevails?

  • mpho3's rating of the film Russian Ark

    To truly appreciate Ulysses, one must know a lot about Irish history, Catholicism, or James Joyce. Similarly, RA probably works best for those conversant in Russian history, art history, or Sukarov's conceits. For me RA should be indecipherable but like Ebert said, "If cinema is sometimes dreamlike, then every edit is an awakening.'Russian Ark' spins a daydream made of centuries." Dreams are my language. 3.5 stars

  • J. O.'s rating of the film Russian Ark

    While incredibly impressive, as most would agree, "Russian Ark" is not a one trick pony. In fact, it manages to present a wonderfully engaging story that would be just as engaging had it been done in more than a single shot. Every shot is breathtaking - the costumes, the rooms, the orchestras, it was all perfect.

  • Arisa's rating of the film Russian Ark

    I agree that this film really deserves credit for being done in one shot. I personally thought it could've been more interesting, though. (I mean, c'mon, Russian history is SO colorful and fascinating!)

  • Allan's rating of the film Russian Ark

    I found it to be an absolutely banal tourist guide spectacle, which had absolutely nothing at all to say, explicitly at least as implicitly I found it nationalistic and reactionary in it's lavish glorification of the aristocracy. The dialog was utterly trite, the framing devise of the european (who was really annoying) and the russian uninteresting and I didn't think it looked as good as it could have. Just rubbish.

  • Dzimas's rating of the film Russian Ark

    The idea was great, a roving camera taking in the splendor of the Hermitage past and present with apparently no break in the filming, but something seemed to be missing. Still, you have to admire the audacity of Sokurov.

Related films