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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

FRANCOFNIA (2015)

Regrettable. After the art-house meditations and tour-de-force one-take pyrotechnics of Aleksandr Sokurov’s RUSSIAN ARK/’02 became an unlikely commercial hit, it was inevitable that his eccentric guided tour of Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum would attempt replication at another world-famous museum. It took a while, but here we are, winding thru the galleries and history of the Louvre, with special focus on the strange pas de deux between French museum director Jacques Jaujard and German Officer Franz Wolff-Metternich. Together, they formed an improbable alliance that saved nearly the entire museum collection during the Nazi Occupation. A phenomenal story, but poorly served in this misguided essay film which is all deep-think Sokurov digressions, punctuated with stiff historical re-enactments that might have come from some lost History Channel docu-drama. Near self-parody for Sokurov, with awards & acclaim auto-response for past achievements. To get the real improbable story, look elsewhere . . . elsewhere on the same disc, since planted in the Extras is a moving & imaginative knockout of a documentary, THE MAN WHO SAVED THE LOUVRE/’14, that does it justice.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: As mentioned above, THE MAN WHO SAVED THE LOUVRE. OR: Two different takes on the near loss of French Art Collections during the Occupation: From Volker Schlöndorff in DIPLOMACY/’14 (not seen here) and from John Frankenheimer in the action-oriented THE TRAIN/’64 with Burt Lancaster going up against Paul Scofield.

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