Russkiy kovcheg (2002)
"2000 cast members, 3 orchestras, 33 rooms, 300 years, ALL IN ONE TAKE "A 19th century French aristocrat, notorious for his scathing memoirs about life in Russia, travels through the Russian State Hermitage Museum and encounters historical figures from the last 200+ years.
Technically impressive, content-wise it was interesting rather than engaging
An unnamed and unseen filmmaker finds himself in the Hermitage museum in
Petersburg in what appears to be the 18th Century. No one seems to be
to see him except his travelling companion, Frenchman Marquis de Custine,
who he talks to. Together the two of them go around the museum, flitting
between time as they go, gradually covered 300 years of Russian
I was drawn to this film as I have recently had to install digital
television in my house (just for 24!) and I figured that I might as well
what the channels had to offer. After working out that I had access to
numerous shopping channels I also found that I had BBC4, the arts and
history channel, and that it was to be showing this film. I was
in it not for my love of Russian history but for the fact that it was done
in one take and, for that reason, I quite enjoyed it.
As far as plot goes, I really think you need to have an existing knowledge
of Russian history as this film will not help you understand anything
it other than a passing impression. This was the case for me as I know
to nothing of the history, but I was still able to gleam some things about
the political relationships between Russia and Europe as well as some of
main players. However it never got to the point where I was taken or
engaged by the material; interested is perhaps a more fitting word to
and that's still a good thing.
Technically the film is gripping and very impressive. Much was made of
Snake Eye's 20 minute one-take opening (even thought it was actually 3
takes) or Goodfella's seamless move from street to table, but this film
blows them away. I cannot even imagine the sheer logistics involved in
creating such an effect. It would be impressive if the film was all shot
one room with a few cast members, but this film moves around the museum
a cast of thousands and set pieces that vary from two people looking at
paintings to a massive ballroom scene. I was held totally impressed by
whole film as the entire one take was delivered seamlessly, without flaw.
For this reason the acting is impressive whether it is Dontsov's acerbic
Frenchman or just some extra's - everyone had to get it right bang on time
and they did.
Overall this film will be a masterpiece if you have a good working
and understanding of Russian history. However even if you don't know that
much (like me), the technical aspect of this film will impress you no end
even if the material is best seen as `interesting' at best.