Updated: May 11
People asked me why I stole that specific sequence from Russian Ark, why exactly that dark scene? As I described in my last post Director Alexander Sokurov set out a route through 33 rooms of the St Petersburg Hermitage museum for his film. Virtually all the rooms in the film are stuffed with action and splendor. However I wanted this obscure passage for a reason. In the film we follow the 19th-century French diplomat Marquis de Custine, our tour guide. There are constantly doors opened and shut, separating different historic events and time periods. For Slova I picked out the dark hallway and the one single room that the narrator (Sokurov himself) strongly advised against.
In the film the Marquis ignores the warning and meets a hider on the attic of the museum during World War II. The German army unsuccessfully tried to clear a route to Moscow via the North resulting in the siege of Leningrad (the former name of St Petersburg) all that time the museum functioned as safehouse for refugees. For my video I wanted not just Sokurov's idea of opening a door to another time, but also the uncanny atmosphere from this particular scene. In Slova I brutally made a cross fade transition from the book mill and the Russian Library with it's authors, to the garden with the blooming Snowy Mespilus in the bright cold spring afternoon.
Indirectly this unlocking of the forbidden room resonates with the unsettling shift into our collective future, where millions of people worldwide accept the experimental injections and a system of China styled Health passports. I remembered the conversation between the Marquis and the narrator from Russian Ark "Not that door sir! - but I like it. Such a beautiful door! - No, not that one!". Still the tone of my Slova video is not too depressive I hope.To stay at the positive side I also stole the statement about the indestructibility of art and the concept of the eternal cycle of life, splendidly materialized by the garden in the spring, bathing in sunlight.