Saturday, January 31, 2015

"The Hermitage: A Journey in Time and Space": A complete tour of the huge museum and former Czar residence in St. Petersburg, Russia

The 2004 documentary “The Hermitage: A Journey in Time and Space”, by Vladimir Ptashchenko, was released on DVD by Kultur in 2014.  The visuals in the film are outstanding in clarity, despite that the DVD is standard. 

The film starts with some shots of the entire long structure of the museum on the water, and then a concert inside the museum starts, with a Mozart overture.  A variety of music by Bach. Vivaldi, Mozart and Haydn play for most of the film (especially Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony in F# Minor); gradually the music moves to Tchaikovsky and even Schnittke.

The film ends with a lights festival outdoors at the museum.  In between, we get the grand tour, with lots of detailed descriptions of many of the paintings and sculptures, with explanations of how the pieces fit into Russian Czarist history.

There is gemstone corset with a whole rainbow of brilliant colors.  There is a room with an unusual collection of green jade sculptures balancing the more ordinary room colors.

The museum was a residence until the Russian revolution.

Film may be the best way people can see parts of Russia right now, especially St. Petersburg (on the Baltic Sea, not too far from the Finnish border).  Tensions are high, and the Russian anti-gay propaganda law of 2013 might present issues for LGBT people with public blogs about their lives that are accessible in Russia (I have yet to hear if any arrests of tourists have happened for this reason). For all its beauty, St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) had an anti-gay speech law before Russia as a whole did.
The official site from Kultur is here
I have a related review of an older film “Russian Ark” (by Sokurov) and the associated documentary “In One Breath” on Wordpress here
Wikipedia attribution link for Hermitage entrance picture by Yair Haklai (Creative Commons, Share-Alike 3.0).  

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