Fun facts

Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2003

• The Hermitage contains more than 2.7 million items in its collection.

• Five palaces make up the massive complex.

• The stroll that the characters make through the museum is about 1.5 kilometers, or nearly a mile.

• "Russian Ark" took four years to plan and one day to film.

• More than 50 electricians were required to light 36 rooms in the palace complex.

• Sokurov had a team of 22 assistant directors.

• The production employed 867 trained actors, each in full costume and makeup for the duration of filming.

• In the ball sequence, there are more than 300 dancers.

• Though filmed in one take, Sokurov allowed his team to start over if anything went wrong during the first 20 minutes of shooting. The movie was completed on the fourth try.

• The scene in which Catherine the Great crosses a snow-covered garden (in minus-24-degree weather) occurs nearly halfway through the movie. It was feared that the camera would steam up when it re-entered the palace and ruin the film. Sokurov reportedly lit a candle in a church and prayed the night before filming. The camera didn't steam up.

• There is a spy following the Marquis Kustin throughout the Hermitage. This is an authentic historical touch because spies always shadowed foreign dignitaries in 19th century Russia.

• The director of the Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovsky, plays himself in a scene with actors depicting his predecessors, including his own father.

- Source: "In One Breath," a documentary on the making of "Russian Ark."

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