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Tonight at 8 PM MST "Russian Ark"


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To the folks on these message boards who hold the stubborn point of view that no movies worth seeing were made past a certain date, may I suggest you take a look at Russian Ark (2002) this evening--An innovate, little piece of cinematic brilliance and arguably one of the best films produced in the last two decades.


While I, like many, have been less than enthused about Mark Cousins' 'Story of Film' series, I have also appreciated the various foreign films surrounding the documentary centtrepiece. Many of them, if not 'great', were at least interesting and served as a worthwhile introduction to foreign film ( Breathless (1960) and Days of Being Wild (1990)) are two examples.


Edited by: Remy_Orpen on Dec 9, 2013 6:24 PM

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"Russian Ark" was and is a stunning achievement both visually and as a glimpse into the mystery and enigma of Mother Russia. The ghosts and spectres and spirits of Imperial and aristocratic Russia still intertwining and haunting the extraordinary rooms and art of the Hermitage from Catherine the Great thru the last Tsar of All the Russias Nicholas ll and his family thru the last Bolshevik Tsars in the dark to the present Russian Federation. To see the images and costumes was extraordinary to me as a casual student of European History. To see images of the five murdered daughters of Nicholas ll skipping and laughing thru the hallways past their German born mother the last Tsarina was chilling. All the film lacked was a visitation of the darkly evil Rasputin and a glimpse of the long suffering huddled masses of the centuries of totalitarian Imperial Russia and the Bolshevik Soviet Union. From St. Petersburg to Petrograd to Leningrad and back to St. Petersburg. Recurring thoughts of Napoleon and Hitlerian hordes swarming into and being lost in endless Mother Russia. Amazing that all of this film was filmed in ONE DAY. ONE DAY!! It was like a vision of Stephen King's The Overlook Hotel where all was still swirling and nobody had left which was heightened by Russian Ark's ending thru a window into the mists of Time. Thank you TCM for this amazing movie. I will never get to visit The Hermitage in person but this was astounding to see it thru the eyes of countless spirits mixed with modern and alive persons who recognized they were not alone in the vast rooms.

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I see the tidal wave as the titanic historical threats to St. Peterburg's/Hermitage's glory and beauty and priceless artworks through time. Bonaparte's French invaders repulsed, Stalin's siege of Russia's own antiquity and people, murderous Nazi invaders lapping at Leningrad's Gates and killing and destroying in the darkest of the Hermitage's days but the essence survived to be reborn again even as the last Bolshevik masters including Gorbachev and Yeltsin wander the darkened museum rooms. The Tidal Waves Of History have been repulsed and the Hermitage reborn in the renamed St. Petersburg which had been Petrograd and then Leningrad during the two great wars the Russians fought against the Germans during the last 100 years. The tidal wave was the tumult of violent history both of Russia's own doing and western European invaders. At present in the last dark and misty seas image the waters are roiling but there is no imminent danger. The Ark of Russia's centuries old art and aristocratic culture continues to float into time.

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I will proffer a differing view of the symbolism:


The Hermitage was an inexorable force both artistically and politically. It swept up collections and artistic and architectural styles from all of Europe. It was the seat of power of the greatest Empire of several ages. None could stand against it and it overpowered all so rash or foolish as to try to conquer it.


Its innate power was that of the greatest forces of nature.


It was that even the Soviet could not destroy it even although they were so powerful as to remove the people who had shepherded it.

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"Russian Ark" is one of those movies in which a documentary should had been made and presented i.e. on The History Channel that explains the reasoning behind the film. I could had went into it differently.


Such as the case with "Titanic" (1943), if not for the documentary "Nazi Titanic" (2012), I would have seen the film itself as boring. Now I understand the behind the scenes meaning of it and how it backfired on Joseph Goebbels.


Until this past week postings on the forum and presentation on TCM, I never heard of "Russian Ark" before.

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Roverrocks you mention the five daughters of Nicholas II flittering through the halls. But Nicholas only had four daughters. I thought that when the Custine character encountered the girls he was seeing the Tsar's daughters. But looking at the scene more closely it must be Anastasia with four friends. Her three older sisters must be already sitting at the breakfeast (?) table that we see later on.

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Thanks for the correction on the daughters. You are quite right skimpole. Makes total sense what you say now that I think back. A magnificent scene of the running girls in the hallway and then the small grand dining room with the rest of Anastasia's siblings and father.

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Yes, that was a few years ago it was aired on CBC.

TFO in Ontario has been airing Alexandre Sokourov (French spelling of his name) films all year and will continue airing them into 2014.

So far this year I've seen "Moloch":



"Taurus": http://www1.tfo.org/cine/horaire-tfo/taurus


"Le Soleil": http://www1.tfo.org/cine/horaire-tfo/le-soleil


(All the above films being aired again on TFO during January 2014)


Upcoming this month, TFO is airing:


"Mother and Son": http://www1.tfo.org/cine/horaire-tfo/mere-et-fils


"Father and Son": http://www1.tfo.org/cine/horaire-tfo/pere-et-fils


and in January 2014:


"Alexandra": http://www1.tfo.org/cine/horaire-tfo/alexandra


"Faust": http://www1.tfo.org/cine/horaire-tfo/faust-2011


The TFO overview of Sokourov's career to date is here:




TFO in Ontario is an excellent movie channel. Films are aired without commercials and include foreign films you rarely see anywhere else.

It is a French-language channel so many, but not all, films are in French (made in France or dubbed into French) or have French subtitles.

But there are occasions I have seen where the film is dubbed into French and there are English subtitles. But most non-French films are aired in the original language with French subtitles.


An example of some other excellent films on this channel recently are some by Luis Bu?uel:


"Nazarin" (1959) was aired last week on TFO:



"The Exterminating Angel" (1962) is on this week:



"This Strange Passion" (1953) was aired last month:



"The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz" (1955) was aired almost two weeks ago:



"The Young and the Damned" (1950) was on in November too:



and they aired other flicks by Bu?uel made outside his Mexican period like:


"Land Without Bread" (1933):



and "Un Chien Andalou: (1929):



Anyway, TFO is an excellent movie channel for classic and more recent foreign films. I can't say enough good about it.

Film buffs in Ontario should give it a try. Not sure if Americans can get the channel??


You can view the wide variety in films TFO is airing this week, here:




(TFO has been airing many of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's films last month and this month too... Also movies by Marcel Carn? such as "Les Enfants du Paradis"...)

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