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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Russian Ark -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Alexander Sokurov's 2002 Russian Ark is, in it's most simple terms, a very nice tour of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    If that was the part and parcel of the film, ie. a nice documentary, we'd not have a great deal to discuss.

    Russian Ark is one of the most exhilarating experiences for any lover of the cinema that's come along in decades.

    Continuously moving, seeking, dancing, walking, turning and discovering...

    This is a 99 minute film.

    In a single take.

    Let's try that again.

    IN A SINGLE TAKE!

    Photographed in HD with a Sony CineAlta and Canon lens, and then taken to 35mm, it stuns the senses, and leaves you in a constant state of wonder.

    A note about quality. It was shot on HD in 2002. Some dark sequences are a bit noisy. It it bothers you, get over it. It is what it is.

    A great cinema achievement. And a film that knocks me out every time I view it -- finally here in Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

    According to iMDb, which is unfortunately filled with errors, it was the first film shot on uncompressed HD. The first three takes were stopped, and the fourth won the day. Image being a player that somehow forces a shutdown at the 90 minute mark.

    The cinematographer, Tilman Buttner is a Steadicam Operator.

    Image - 5

    Audio - 5

    Very Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
    ROclockCK likes this.
  2. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    This belongs in any serious cinephiles collection.
     
  3. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the words, I'm very much looking forward to this as I felt the DVD was quite hard on the eyes, lacking detail, etc.

    I wonder if you know or can tell by the image - is the blu-ray derived from the HD master, or a 35mm element?
     
  4. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Premium
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    When I saw this theatrically, I wasn't entirely prepared for the magnificent ambition of the 'stunt'. Surely during its running time there would be some convenient cutaways...or quick dissolves...or matching cuts...like Hitchcock's Rope...to discretely patch over scenes and shots.

    Nope. They really did it all in one mind-bogglingly complex take, which, by itself would have been merely a curious cinematic footnote had Sokurov and his team not done it so damn well. Not only was Russian Ark beautiful and exhilarating to watch, but it was brimming with fascinating historical and cultural detail. As art, it walked the walk...and danced the dance.

    Thanks so much for drawing attention to this unique cinematic achievement RAH!
     
  5. Malcolm Bmoor

    Malcolm Bmoor Stunt Coordinator

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    This was made at a time when professional camcorders used 35 minute Digibeta tapes and I never understood how a cameraman, apparently unattached to anybody else carrying a larger recorder, was able to record for so long. The result, however it was achieved, must have made a far heavier than normal Steadicam rig. I once trespassed from my role as sound recordist and walked around a large studio wearing the usual Steadicam of that time and a few minutes was quite enough.

    An amazing achievement and rivetting viewing when I first saw it. I always suspected that there were, of necessity, a few well hidden joins so my admiration has increased to hear that there weren't.
     
  6. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    One of my favorite films. The glassy smooth Steadicam work and long take make this like a dream. Besides the incredible technical aspect, it's a wonderful celebration of culture. I do love how there's so many points in the film where it would have been ridiculously easy to hide a cut. Sokorov could have either decided to digitally stitch takes together or avoid moments that "could be" where cuts were hidden to show off the idea. That's confident filmmaking.

    It looks like Kino brought over the making-of (which is on both the excellent Artificial Eye DVD and less than excellent PAL ghosted Wellspring). It's just as much worth viewing as the film!
     
  7. Patrick H.

    Patrick H. Second Unit

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    Question: In the review over at DVDBeaver, the making-of doc looks horizontally-stretched into 16x9. Is that actually the case?
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Stretched. No. A bit of wide angle distortion. Yes.

    RAH
     

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