Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov’s follow up to 2002’s Russian Ark, a single-take visit through St. Petersberg’s Hermitage Museum, is part documentary film, part narrative. The film promotes not just the history of the Louvre or the role of the museum in popular culture, but also the very idea of what it means to be human.
Variety critic Jay Weissberg states that, “A constant shuffling of layers is one of the film’s hallmarks: It cuts from deathbed photos of Chekhov and Tolstoy to a Skype conversation that Sokurov has with a ship captain, then shifts to the warm glow of 1940-set scenes. In between are lessons on the Louvre’s centuries-long construction; archival footage of Parisians getting on with their lives during the Nazi Occupation; reflections on how portraiture shaped European civilization; and the spirit of Napoleon walking the museum’s grand galleries, occasionally encountering the personification of France, Marianne.”
“Does it all come together?” Weissberg asks. “Well, yes, if viewers think of the film as a freewheeling poetic essay, highly personal yet captivating. The pic’s core (or perhaps merely the hook?) is the relationship between Jaujard and Wolf Metternich, vanquished and conqueror, and how both men were intent on protecting the Louvre’s treasures. By the time the Nazis rolled into Paris in 1940, almost all the works of art had already been transferred to a series of safer chateaux across France, but the highly cultured, French-speaking German aristocrat would go on to defy his commanders and continue to keep France’s museum holdings protected from deportation to the Third Reich.”
Director: Aleksandr Sokurov | France | 2015 | 90 minutes | French with English subtitles
Tickets are available online until 2:30 pm the day of the screening or 2:30 pm on Friday for weekend matinees. Tickets are also available at Visitor Services, or by calling 901.544.6208 during regular business hours. Unsold tickets are also available in the rotunda immediately preceding a screening.