alexander sokurov

Film Review: “Francofonia” loves the Louvre

The maker of "Russian Ark" returns with another ode to the joy, and necessity, of museums

When it seems like the world today is an unending series of catastrophes and injustices, and culture is constantly under assault from the forces of ignorance, remember this fact: Seventy-five years ago, the intellectual and artistic capital of Western civilization was in the hands of the Nazis. The actual, literal Nazis, one of the most barbaric and destructive regimes in history, were camped out in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Hitler held Paris in the palm of his hand. It’s really quite astonishing that things turned out as well as they did.

Prompting an awareness of that historical contingency is one of the goals of Aleksander Sokurov’s latest ode to museums, “Francofonia.” Sokurov’s 2012 film “Russian Ark” took a 100-minute, one-take trip through St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, and now he turns his attention to the Louvre. This is a more intellectual exercise, but one that’s ultimately rewarding and even inspiring.